Land response pressed as time ticks away

Top News | Phoenix Un 7 Jan 2019

Task Force on Land Supply chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai has called on the government to respond before the end of next month to the final report on the public consultation on land supply.

The task force will be disbanded by the end of February. The final report, submitted to the government on the last day of last year, recommended three short-term measures and five medium to long-term options aimed at creating more than 3,000 hectares of housing land.

The government has yet to give an official response after the publication of the recommendations.

Speaking on a TVB program yesterday, Wong said the government should respond formally to the report before the task force is disbanded on February 28.

Wong said the government should announce as soon as possible if it would accept each of the eight recommendations and provide an explanation for each one. It should tell the public if any preliminary search work has been done on the different options.

"The general road map should list options that people discussed most, which would offer the most land potential and which would cause the most changes. Since we already know the mainstream opinion, we don't need to hold a consultation on each option," he said.

As to the Fanling Golf Course, it remains unclear whether the government will accept the task force's recommendation that 32 hectares be carved out for housing.

Secretary for Home Affairs Lau Kong-wah declined to answer directly to questions whether the Hong Kong Golf Club could extend its lease, but he said his bureau will publicize the review to the private recreational lease policy later this month.

Wong, who also spoke at City Forum yesterday, said the lack of land resources was a pressing and imminent issue since fresh supply of land had stopped for years.

"We neither have time now to work on the options one by one, nor the space to 'pick A but not B' although we have eight options," he said.

Wong said he recognized various uncertainties in land creation. If some of the options are not feasible due to these uncertainties, "the government should explain what challenges and obstacles that they have encountered," he said.

The matter of the private agricultural land reserve in the New Territories was disputed at the forum. Chan Kin-ching, a member of the Liber Research Community, cited the analysis of the Social Science Research Centre of the University of Hong Kong.

It showed that 64 percent of all 4,600 open-ended responses and submissions on methods to develop private agricultural land resources in the New Territories supported use of the Lands Resumption Ordinance.

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