Solving the land and housing problem tops the agenda of the current-term Government. In his maiden Policy Address delivered last week, the Chief Executive adopts a multi-pronged land development strategy in four directions, namely “enhancing quantity, speed, efficiency and quality”, to compress land-production procedures, expedite land production and build up a land reserve in the long run, with a view to tackling housing issues, providing a quality living environment and creating strong impetus for growth for Hong Kong. The Development Bureau (DEVB) will implement the initiatives in full steam to build a more livable Hong Kong.
1. Enhancing quantity
Formulating and annually releasing a 10-year supply forecast of spade-ready sites
To illustrate the Government’s efforts in land creation and facilitate monitoring of progress, we will formulate and annually release a forecast of 10-year supply of developable land (i.e. spade-ready sites). This is the first time the Government has announced a forecast of this kind, which has also become one of the work performance indicators for us in terms of land creation.
Major reversal of the situation of stringent land supply
In terms of enhancing quantity, we will see a major reversal of the situation of stringent land supply in the past. In the next decade (i.e. 2023-24 to 2032-33), the supply of spade-ready sites will reach 3 280 hectares and show an upward trend. Of these sites, those earmarked for housing development are estimated to provide about 493 000 housing units.
As for private housing, based on the latest projection in the Long Term Housing Strategy, the housing demand for the coming 10-year period is 129 000 units, meaning that we need about 12 900 units each year and about 65 000 units in the five-year period. In the coming five years, the Government will well prepare for the supply of sites capable of yielding 72 000 private units to the market through land sale and railway property development. Together with the development projects of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and other private development projects, the overall supply will exceed projected demand.
Jettisoning the “land just enough” mindset
However, we will not stop here. We will continue to identify more land development opportunities, as we create land not only for the purpose of solving the housing problem, but also in the hope of improving a living environment for the public and creating strong impetus for growth for Hong Kong. We therefore have to jettison the “land just enough” mindset. We have to have land reserve so as to provide room for the Government and all sectors to seek policy innovation.
Northern Metropolis and Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands
The Northern Metropolis and the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands under the “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” will form a major source of future land supply. Of the over 3 000 hectares of land to be developed in the entire Northern Metropolis, 40% (or about 1 300 hectares) will become spade-ready sites in the coming decade. As regards the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands, our target is to provide 1 000 hectares of new land, of which about 30% (or 300 hectares) will be made available in the latter part of the 10-year period. In other words, this is absolutely not a distant target to achieve given the progressive implementation of these large-scale land creation projects during this 10-year period.
Besides, the new land sources as set out in this Policy Address include “Green Belt” review. In addition to the 1 200 hectares of land zoned “Green Belt” already covered by various development projects, we have further identified about 255 hectares of land in “Green Belt” sites with a potential supply of about 70 000 units, which will be included in the 10-year supply of spade-ready sites.
2. Enhancing speed and efficiency
Streamlining development-related processes
To increase land supply, we also need to enhance speed and efficiency, which means “streamlining processes” in two major aspects: statutory procedures and administrative procedures. In terms of statutory procedures, we are making preparation to introduce the relevant bill into the Legislative Council (LegCo) by the end of this year, with a view to amending several development-related ordinances. I hope for the overall support from society and the LegCo for the smooth passage of the amendment bill, realising the substantial compression of the time required for creating spade-ready sites as set out in the Policy Address, thereby reducing the time required for large-scale projects from 13 years to seven years and the time for typical projects from six years to four years.
As regards further streamlining administrative procedures including the gross floor area concession arrangement for carparks, self-certification and independent checking arrangement, these are the key topics that stakeholders are hoping us to deal with. We are also committed to progressively putting forward concrete proposals and discussing with the industry starting from the middle of next year.
3. Enhancing quality
Facilitating renewal of urban districts
In terms of enhancing quality, we will update and streamline the compulsory sale regime in four directions as set out below to expedite urban renewal:
Firstly, to propose lowering the compulsory sale application thresholds from 80% to 70% of ownership for private buildings aged 50 to below 70 and further to 60% for those aged 70 or above. For industrial buildings (IBs) not located within industrial zones, it is proposed to lower the threshold for IBs aged 30 or above from 80% to 70% of ownership;
Secondly, to consider combining the ownership and thresholds for abutting lots which will be jointly redeveloped;
Thirdly, to streamline the legal procedures for compulsory sale;
Fourthly, to set up a dedicated office to provide additional support to the affected minority owners.
We will consult the LegCo Panel on Development, professional institutes and residents’ organisations on the concrete proposals within this year, and plan to introduce the amendment bill into the LegCo in the latter half of 2023.
Furthermore, it is worth mentioning that we will develop our city with emphasis on providing more leisure facilities so as to improve the quality of life for the public. We will develop a Round-the-Island Trail on Hong Kong Island, connecting the waterfront promenades on the northern shore of the island with a number of existing waterfront and countryside walking trails in the Southern District. The Trail will have a length of about 60 kilometres, 20 kilometres of which will comprise newly built and improved sections. We hope that 90% of the Trail will be connected in the coming five years.
On top of the above initiatives, the DEVB will strive to follow up on other initiatives, which include extending the arrangement for charging land premium at standard rates, promoting wider adoption of Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) method, streamlining the arrangement for land lease extension and providing support to the URA, in our efforts to build a more livable Hong Kong.
30 October, 2022Back