Reclamation tied to end of subdivided flats goal

Top News | Michael Shum 26 Jul 2021

Financial Secretary Paul Chan Mo-po has jumped on the housing bandwagon to address Hong Kong's giant problem -- a key battleground issue in the run-up to the chief executive election in March.

Chan, who rarely comments on land and housing issues, wrote on his blog that Hong Kong should aim to eliminate subdivided flats by 2049 at the latest, to cut red tape to increase short- to mid-term land supply, and to increase long-term supply drastically by reclamation.

Some of the measures would include a need to amend the Town Planning Ordinance to simplify procedures, which will be more efficient and prevent people from abusing the ordinance, he said.

On bidding farewell to subdivided flats 28 years from now or sooner, Chan viewed the issue head on by visiting residents of subdivided flats in Sham Shui Po on Saturday and followed on by writing that housing is the most pressing issue faced by people at the grassroots.

Land and housing problems have been a "huge deadlock" and limited the development of Hong Kong, he said, pointing to political controversies and "an idle legislature" in the past.

But the administration is determined to solve the problem regarding housing and subdivided flats, he added, though that will not be easy.

There is also the hope of resolving the problem of buying a home, he said. That was difficult as flats are now small and expensive.

"The problem deeply affects the development and stability of society, which is a problem related to the economy, people's livelihood as well as a serious political problem," he said.

Earlier, the chief of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, Xia Baolong, provided a pointer that Chan followed, saying it is Hong Kong's top priority to bid farewell to cramped living spaces, including partitioned flats and cage homes, by 2049.

The rare comment by Chan sparked speculation on whether he was readying for a run for the SAR's top job. It was also noted that Leung Chun-ying and Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor - the former and present chief executive respectively -have been talking about solving the housing issue.

Chan moved on to the administration unveiling the Hong Kong 2030+ report, which will reveal estimates of land demand in the next two decades alongside a clear timetable of land supply plans.

He said the administration should review developing areas near the border with Shenzhen as the planned Northern Link rail line will mean nearby areas have development potential.

The Society for Community Organization said over 20 percent of non-elderly single people have lived in partitioned flats for at least 12 months.

It suggested officials make it easier for them to be assigned public housing flats.

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