Public flats rising soon under reclamation plan

Top News | Carine Chow 27 Sep 2021

The East Lantau Metropolis will have its first batch of residents in 2034 at the earliest, says Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun.

Reclamation work in Lantau for the project would begin in 2027, Wong said, and the first batch of land would be created in 2030.

"Our current timetable is aggressive, but if different sectors of society can cooperate we can have the first group of residents living [there] in 2034," he said.

Wong was pointing to artificial islands involving about 1,000 hectares around Kau Yi Chau - an uninhabited island west of Victoria Harbour.

Authorities estimated previously that they could build between 150,000 and 260,000 homes on the new islands, with 70 percent of them public housing units, and they could be bigger than current designs.

"When we are talking about living in better and bigger apartments Kau Yi Chau might be the best place that embodies these improvements," Wong said.

The artificial islands, along with the developments in New Territories North, will be the two major land sources for Hong Kong after 2030, with the latest study report on the Hong Kong 2030+ program due within a few weeks, he said.

Wong also indicated the amount of land Hong Kong needs for development will be much greater than what government planners envisaged originally after considering the aging population and people wanting more space in their homes.

As plans stand now, Wong said, there should be around 100 hectares of new land for the government in each of the coming five years. That would be a major improvement on the about 45 hectares of land retrieved annually now.

He also noted that around 316,000 public housing units will be built in the coming 10 years - 5 percent above the demand that was forecast earlier, which was for around 301,000 units.

"According to our latest data, the amount of public housing units available might be even higher than the current prediction of 316,000 units," he said.

Two-thirds of the homes will only be completed in the second five years, but Wong said authorities will try to complete the units sooner to solve the problem of inadequate housing.

Noting that some people choose to live in subdivided flats in hopes of reducing travel time to work, Wong said it is necessary to introduce more job vacancies in the long run to provide jobs within neighborhoods.

"For example, in the Hung Shui Kiu-Ha Tsuen new development area we don't just provide housing," he said. "We also will have some 100,000 job openings related to logistics and commerce available."

On whether a new railway will be built to connect Hung Shui Kiu in Yuen Long and Qianhai in Shenzhen, Wong said he believed the policy address to be announced by Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on October 6 could cover the suggestion.

He said given the proximity to Shenzhen that development in New Territories North requires a comprehensive plan to create a "synergy effect" that would benefit Hong Kong and Shenzhen.

Wong said too that developers and the Urban Renewal Authority could work together on a blueprint to overhaul parts of Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok.

carine.chow@singtaonewscorp.com



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