LCQ6: Driving redevelopment to increase housing supply

Following is a question by the Hon Yang Wing-kit and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (June 22):
There are views that identifying lands for housing construction is the fundamental solution for increasing public housing supply, and that there are quite a number of suitable lands in the territory, e.g. large-scale three-storey village house clusters in the New Territories, buildings under the Civil Servants' Co-operative Building Society Scheme (CBS buildings) located in the urban areas, and old districts such as Kowloon Central, which are of extremely high redevelopment value. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it will implement large-scale redevelopment plans for village houses by purchasing the three-storey village house clusters in the New Territories at market prices, and construct public housing estates with 30-storey high buildings on the lands resumed; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether it will drive the redevelopment of Kowloon Central, especially San Po Kong, Fung Wong, "13 Streets" in To Kwa Wan, Lung Shing, and To Kwa Wan old districts, so as to increase the supply of public housing; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) given that the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is currently implementing two pilot projects in Kowloon City to redevelop CBS buildings to provide housing which includes subsidized sale housing, whether it knows the latest progress of such projects; whether it will, in collaboration with URA, draw up a timetable for redeveloping other CBS buildings, and explore the redevelopment approach for CBS buildings with smaller site area, so as to provide more subsidized sale housing?
Providing decent accommodation for all is the primary goal of the housing policy. The Government revised the public/private housing split from 60:40 to 70:30 in 2018 to further step up the policy efforts in producing more public housing units. The Government has all along been sparing no effort in developing land resources and increasing housing supply. According to the housing demand projection in December 2021, the total housing supply target for the 10-year period from 2022-23 to 2031-32 is 430 000 units, and the public housing supply target is 301 000 units. The Government has identified about 350 hectares of land which is estimated to produce some 330 000 public housing units in the above 10-year period. The aforesaid supply will mainly come from new development areas (NDAs) and various large-scale development projects, as well as individual sites rezoned for purpose of public housing development. After the aforesaid 10-year period, continued supply of public housing will remain with land resources mainly from different brownfield clusters, individual large-scale projects, especially Yuen Long South, San Tin/Lok Ma Chau Development Node and the New Territories North New Town in the Northern Metropolis, as well as the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands.
My reply to the question raised by the Hon Yang Wing-kit is as follows:
Regarding part (1) of the question, generally speaking, New Territories village houses are mainly located in "Village Type Development" zones which are intended for low-rise, low-density developments. If the land concerned was to be rezoned for high-density residential development on a large scale, factors including infrastructure provisions in the area, impact on the environment and the planning principle of "urban-rural integration" would need to be taken into account. It would be difficult to implement large-scale village house redevelopment or development plans across-the-board solely because the development density of some New Territories village houses is relatively lower.
In terms of overall planning, not all lands have the potential for high-density development. In fact, different types of land with varying densities in the same area could complement each other, bettering the planning and environment of the area. When planning for NDAs or large-scale housing development, the Government would adopt a planning-led strategy and consider the selection and scale of development site having regard to factors including overall spatial layout, infrastructure capacity and urban-rural integration. If a site is confirmed to be suitable for NDA or public housing development, the Government would resume the relevant private land when necessary regardless of whether village houses are involved. For instance, in the case of Kwu Tung North and Fanling North NDAs and public housing development at Long Bin in Yuen Long, the resumption of rural building lots with houses erected thereon was involved.
Regarding part (2) of the question, public housing in Hong Kong is mainly provided by the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) and the Hong Kong Housing Society. The role and work areas of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) are mainly on renewing old districts with a focus on redeveloping old and dilapidated private properties. This differentiation is mainly due to the fact that the URA is operating on a self-financing basis, and redevelopment projects involve costs of acquisition, compensation and rehousing etc. in addition to construction costs. The URA also needs to replenish the loss of private housing arising from demolition of the old and dilapidated private buildings in its redevelopment projects.
Notwithstanding the above, in recent years the URA has been playing a role to enhance the supply of public housing within its capacity. For instance, the URA will provide subsidised Starter Homes (SH) units in suitable redevelopment projects. eResidence, which was developed by the URA, provided nearly 500 SH units. Moreover, the URA has also decided to assign the redevelopment project adjacent to the eResidence as another SH project which is expected to provide about 260 SH units for pre-sale in 2023-24.
Regarding the concern of the Hon Yang in relation to the redevelopment of "13 Streets" in To Kwa Wan and the redevelopment of Kowloon City district, they are included in the Urban Renewal Plan for Kowloon City, which was widely discussed in the society during 2012-14. The URA is considering a range of factors holistically. Due to market sensitivity and confidentiality, the URA will only promulgate through publication in the Gazette or other means the project details upon commencement of a specific project. In fact, apart from Kowloon City district, the URA is also conducting a preliminary feasibility study on some projects in Wong Tai Sin district to identify opportunities for urban renewal.
Regarding public housing, as there are limited land resources in urban area and many places have already been developed, future new supply of public housing in Hong Kong would mainly come from individual NDAs, the Northern Metropolis and large-scale projects such as the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands. That said, we are still striving to provide new public housing in Kowloon Central comprising Kowloon City district and north-western part of Wong Tai Sin district. In the next five years, about 16 000 units will be provided in the two districts, of which 12 200 public housing units would come from the new land of the Kai Tak Development Area. Also, we are actively developing three urban squatter areas which are suitable for high-density housing development (viz. Cha Kwo Ling Village, Ngau Chi Wan Village and Chuk Yuen United Village). The aforesaid three redevelopment projects are progressing well and according to current estimation, the projects will provide a total of about 8 700 public housing units which will be completed by phases starting from 2029 onwards.
Apart from constructing housing units on land provided by the Government, the HA will consider the actual circumstances when deciding whether to redevelop an old public rental housing estate in accordance with the four basic principles, namely structural conditions of buildings, cost-effectiveness of repair works, availability of suitable rehousing resources in the vicinity of the estates to be redeveloped and build-back potential upon redevelopment, .
Regarding part (3) of the question, the URA commenced two pilot projects to redevelop buildings under the Civil Servants' Co-operative Building Society (CBS) Scheme in Kowloon City district in May 2020, and they involve a total of 37 CBS sites. According to the preliminary estimation, the number of residential units provided by the two pilot projects would be increased from about 600 to about 3 000 upon redevelopment, of which one-third would be subsidised housing. One of the pilot projects, i.e. the Shing Tak Street/Ma Tau Chung Road Development Project has made good progress in acquisition. The Government is processing the land resumption application for the project. As for the Kau Pui Lung Road/Chi Kiang Street Development Scheme, in view of its large scale, the relevant consultation work is still in progress. Thank you, President.
Ends/Wednesday, June 22, 2022
Issued at HKT 16:42