Review under-utilised lands and speed up reclamations
HONG KONG, CHINA - Media OutReach - 26 September 2018 - Hong Kong's government should release the development potential of the land in Kowloon and New Territories, speed up land reclamation and invest more funds towards addressing the city's urgent land supply issue, proposed in an official submission from RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors).
The city's premiere global professional body in built environment also called for a review of development prospects in village areas of the New Territories, when serving a robust reply to the Government of Hong Kong SAR'sTask Force on Land Supply, which launched apublic consultation addressing how to meet the city's land shortfall.
A prestigious organisation representing the surveying profession both globally and in Hong Kong, RICS welcomed the Task Force's "Land for Hong Kong: Our Home, Our Say!" report -- while submitting a formal, twelve-page response offering ambitious recommendations to ensure the greatest progress is made. The submission focuses on making room for residential land, and increases supply for commercial uses including grade A office space, warehouse development, and other commercial purposes, which in turn would facilitate business growth and improve market stability.
Review land use and increase home density in Kowloon and New Territories
RICS called on the government to explore ways to increase the density of homes in Kowloon and, especially, the New Territories, bringing housing density levels closer to those found on Hong Kong Island. This should include more efficiently deploying existing public housing resources with lower plot ratio than the current permissible ratio applied to private development. Such measures would help reduce the existing 5.3-year waiting time for public housing, while also addressing urban decay. RICS suggests creating incentives, such as awarding bonus plots, to make regeneration projects appealing and financially feasible to developers.
In the New Territories, the government has identified 3,380 hectares of land rezoned under the existing Small House Policy, which allocates land for housing to eligible male adults of indigenous village communities. RICS advocates creating greater development intensity, and exploring the potential to develop public housing, within existing "Village Type Development" zones.
"We have identified opportunities for further development and increasing home density in Kowloon and New Territories. Any potential overcrowding, air ventilation and public amenity accessibility issues can be alleviated by building vertically," said Mr Clement Lau FRICS, convenor of the RICS Land Supply Task Force. "In the New Territories, there are unique challenges to address regarding Village Type Developments, especially considering that the Small House Policy is under judicial review. With that said, we believe the benefits of increasing development and building public housing in these areas are clear."
Speed up administration
Meanwhile developers often cite the lengthy lease modification and land exchange application processes as the greatest hurdle in developing private land. RICS proposes a review of the current process to speed up development, particularly in the New Territories -- where private developers are understood to possess more than 1,000 hectares of underutilised agricultural land and 1,300 hectares of brownfield sites.
RICS also proposes the government should establish a more comprehensive land stock tracking process. It is necessary to a build a more extensive land bank or reserve list, as well as a more thorough timetable documenting the various concurrent lands supply opportunities in process, to better plan for the future and realise the greatest housing supply benefit.
Speed up reclamations
RICS supports land reclamation as a means to increasing land supply, but urged the government to "hasten the commissioning of the necessary feasibility and planning studies".
Moreover, RICS advised that the proposed East Lantau Metropolis reclamation be developed as a logistics hub, rather than a business district, in order to aid Hong Kong's regional competitiveness. The land occupied by the current Kwai Tsing Container Terminals could then be freed up for development as a new "CBD3" business district, proposed by RICS in its earlier recommendation to Hong Kong 2030+ strategy.
"Developing a container port at East Lantau could offer the opportunity to build and upgrade our facilities with the latest technology, to enhance its efficiency and capacity to safeguard it from rising competition within the region," said Mr Clement Lau FRICS, convenor of the RICS Land Supply Task Force.
Greater funding means greater land supply
RICS has called on the government to invest more resources in order to speed up land supply development, planning and feasibility studies -- and supports proposals to create and fund a Special Purpose Vehicle responsible for propelling land supply and development.
"Bringing land supply to the market takes considerable time and capital resources," said Mr Lau. "To expedite the process, we propose that the Government allocates some of the record budget surpluses it has amassed in recent years to fund these activities."
The complete submission is available online here.
**RICS Land Supply Task Force convenor Clement Lau FRICS is available for interview
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