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CE uses Policy Address to detail housing policies

     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, today (January 16) used his inaugural Policy Address to lay out the short, medium and long term strategy for dealing with Hong Kong's housing and land problems.

     "In recent years, our urban development has taken a disturbing turn," Mr Leung said.

     "All too often, there are wrangles over land use and infrastructure projects, leading to sluggish land development and housing shortage."

     Mr Leung announced a multi-pronged approach to dealing with the shortage of land and accommodation and he urged the community to show resolve and work in a pragmatic and proactive manner in solving the problems.

     The Chief Executive laid out a seven-point plan for increasing the supply of subsidised housing in the short and medium term, including

* Setting a production target to supply a total of at least 100,000 Public Rental Housing (PRH) units over the five years starting from 2018;

* Reviewing and expediting the construction of public housing flats without compromising quality;

* Inviting the Hong Kong Housing Society to build more subsidised housing similar to the Greenview Villa Project;

* Examining projects in the pipeline with a view to increasing their plot ratio;

* Combating abuse of PRH resources. Together with the PRH flats surrendered voluntarily by tenants, on average a net number of about 7 000 units will be recovered every year.  With another 15 000 or so new flats completed, there will be more than 22 000 PRH flats available for allocation a year;

* Boosting the supply of Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats with the first batch of 2 100 new HOS flats to be offered for pre-sale next year; and

* Suspending the My Home Purchase Plan (MHPP) and changing the four pieces of land originally earmarked for the MHPP to HOS development, so that those who were previously eligible for the MHPP could apply.

     "To respond more flexibly to society's needs for land, the Government is determined to develop new land extensively and build up an abundant 'land reserve' that can more than meet the short-term demand," Mr Leung said.

     "That way, the reserve can be used to meet future demand in a timely manner."

     Mr Leung said the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee is conducting a comprehensive review of public and private housing demand, including the demand for rental housing and home ownership, and devising a new long-term housing strategy.

     To boost the supply of land for housing, the Chief Executive outlined 10 priority areas:

* Rezone 36 sites, including Government, Institution or Community (GIC) sites and other Government sites, with an area measuring 27 hectares in total, for housing development to provide about 11 900 residential flats;

* Commence the town planning process and rezone 13 sites in Green Belt areas, measuring 57 hectares in total, which are devegetated, deserted or formed for residential use;

* Rezone industrial land for non-industrial uses including a total of 16 sites measuring 30 hectares considered suitable for residential use and providing a total of about 20 400 units;

* Increase the development density of unleased or unallocated residential sites as far as allowable in planning terms;

* Optimise the use of land and, where the original intended use is not required anymore, to convert the land for housing development or other uses that meet the more pressing needs in the community as soon as possible;

* Consider relaxing or lifting a moratorium, which is an administrative measure, currently in force to restrict the sale of new land or modification to lease in Pok Fu Lam and the Mid-Levels, so as to lift development restrictions in these two areas;

* Increase efforts to put into full play the integrated development of mass transportation and residential property, explore vigorously the residential development potential of land along existing and planned railways, and take forward the planning for residential development on land of about 33 hectares in total estimated to provide about 8700 flats;

* Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to supply approximately 4.9 hectares of land in total under its property development projects in the coming four years, estimated to provide about 4700 flats;

* Expedite administrative approval procedures of the Town Planning Board and take other corresponding measures so that land is made available as soon as possible; and

* Develop the former Diamond Hill Squatter Areas (Tai Hom Village), former Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine, former Lamma Quarry and Anderson Road Quarry, which do not involve land resumption, to provide a total of around 15 000 units.

     "The 10 measures just mentioned will increase and accelerate housing land supply," Mr Leung said.

     "Seven of these measures already will make available over 300 hectares of land for housing, providing about 128 700 units in the short to medium term based on known developments."

     For long term supply of housing land, the Chief Executive identified a number of areas for possible development. These include New Development Areas (NDAs) in the North East New Territories and the use of underdeveloped areas in the New Territories North.

     Also, the Planning Department will review agricultural land in North District and Yuen Long currently used mainly for industrial purposes or temporary storage, or which is deserted.

     The Chief Executive also highlighted the advantages of Lantau Island for development due to its proximity to the west bank of the Pearl River Delta, Qianhai, Nansha and Hengqin, coupled with the availability of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge.

     He added that reclamation outside Victoria Harbour could yield about 2 000 to 3 000 hectares of land for development.

     "Extensive land development takes 10 to 20 years," the Chief Executive said.

     "Our young people should recognise that the planning proposals and development options under discussion today are intended to address their future needs.

     "It is all too easy for the Government to side-step the problem, but it is today's young people who will have to bear the adverse consequences in future."

Ends/Wednesday, January 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 13:19


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