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2017 Policy Address outlines comprehensive plans to boost housing and land supply
     The Chief Executive, Mr C Y Leung, has in the 2017 Policy Address today (January 18) outlined comprehensive plans to boost short, medium and long-term housing and land supply.

     He said the housing supply target for the decade from 2017-18 had been set at 460,000 units, including 200,000 public rental housing units and 80,000 subsidised sale flats.

     For private housing supply, he projected that 94,000 units of first-hand residential properties would be made available in the coming three to four years – 45 per cent higher than the figure at the beginning of the current-term Government and a record high since the regular release of supply statistics 12 years ago.

     For the five-year period beginning 2016-17, it is estimated that 94,500 public housing units would be developed by the Hong Kong Housing Authority and the Hong Kong Housing Society.

     Mr Leung said the Government's efforts in land supply were beginning to deliver results, but that "we must keep up these efforts".

     In the short to medium term, the Government will provide more than 380,000 residential units by changing land use and increasing development intensity, he said.

     This involves some 210 housing sites identified through land-use reviews, the Kai Tak Development Area, the Diamond Hill Comprehensive Development Area, reuse of three quarry sites, railway property-development projects, urban renewal projects and more.

     Mr Leung added that the Kai Tak Development Area would offer 16,000 additional residential flats and about 400,000 square metres of commercial floor area in two phases.

     In the medium to long term, a variety of new development areas (NDAs) and new town extensions would provide close to 200,000 residential units and over 8.6 million sq m of industrial and commercial floor area.

     Mr Leung said the Kwu Tung North and Fanling North NDAs are the first large-scale new town developments in Hong Kong "since Tung Chung in the 1990s".

     The two NDAs will yield 60,000 flats and 840,000 sq m of industrial and commercial floor area. The first population intake is expected in six years.

     The Tung Chung New Town Extension will provide 49,400 flats and 877,000 sq m of commercial floor area, with the first population intake expected in six years.

     The planning and engineering studies for the Hung Shui Kiu new development area have been completed. Mr Leung said, "We will start formulating the statutory plans in the first half of this year. This development will offer 61,000 flats and 6.37 million sq m of industrial and commercial floor area. The first population intake is expected in seven years."

     Taken together, the various land-supply initiatives through the short, medium and long term can provide more than 600,000 housing units, Mr Leung said.

     Meanwhile, the Government will commence promptly the planning and engineering study on the reclamations at Lung Kwu Tan and in Ma Liu Shui of about 200 and 60 hectares respectively.

     The blueprint for Lantau's development and conservation will be published in the first half of this year, with the basic direction of "development for the north, conservation for the south".

     The Government's long-term planning study, "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030", has begun and a public engagement exercise is under way, Mr Leung said.

     The Planning Department estimates that at least 4,800 hectares of land will be required up to 2046. Mr Leung said Hong Kong would "still need to identify at least another 1,200 hectares of land even if all the ongoing short, medium and long-term land-supply initiatives are timely implemented in full".

     The housing problem in Hong Kong "boils down to land use", Mr Leung said, noting that the most distinctive characteristic of land-use planning in Hong Kong is the high proportion of country park area, which accounts for 40 per cent of Hong Kong's total land area - "six times that of our total residential land".

     Mr Leung suggested that more land with high ecological value be incorporated into country parks, to increase the total area of ecological conservation sites and country parks, and enhance their recreational and educational value.

     "At the same time, we should also consider allocating a small proportion of land on the periphery of country parks with relatively low ecological and public enjoyment value for purposes other than real estate development, such as public housing and non-profit-making elderly homes," Mr Leung said.

     He added the "issue matters to the well-being of our next generation and warrants serious deliberation of its pros and cons by the society".

     He said the Government is committed to promoting heritage conservation, noting that five batches of projects involving 19 historic buildings had been rolled out under the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme.

     Eight have been opened to the public. Among them, four have won Asia-Pacific Awards for Cultural Heritage Conservation from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

     The New Agriculture Policy announced last year is making good progress and the engineering feasibility study on the Agricultural Park will be completed soon, Mr Leung said.

     The $500 million Sustainable Agricultural Development Fund began accepting applications at the end of last year, and a study on agricultural priority areas will begin later this year.

     The aim of re-organising the land use of brownfield sites and releasing such sites for development is to optimise their use, improve the rural environment and provide suitable land for relevant industries.

     Taking the Hung Shui Kiu NDA as a pilot case, the Government is now exploring the consolidation of brownfield operations into multi-storey industrial buildings or through other efficient means of land use, so as to release the brownfield sites for development.

     The Planning Department will conduct a survey on the distribution and use of all brownfield sites in Hong Kong this year.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2017
Issued at HKT 13:45
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