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Policy address 2021: Northern Metropolis development project to boost land supply, address housing woes

New Territories Association of Societies appeal to Chief Executive to solve the residential problem in the New Territories

Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor proposed a large-scale development plan in the northern New Territories in her last policy address of this term.

Creating a new town on the border with Shenzhen, the plan will develop 600 hectares of land capable of housing 2.5 million people to address the current housing shortage. 

“We cannot avoid the question of how much land Hong Kong lacks, as the projected shortfall will guide our spatial development strategy,” Lam said.

The plan was delivered as the government of one of the world’s least affordable real estate markets pledged to ease the housing problem under pressure from Beijing. 

“There will not be much change in the short term as planning requires time,” said Yuen Wai-kee, associate professor of the department of economics and finance at Hong Kong Shue Yan University.  “What Lam puts forward now is merely an early stage conceptual layout while the actual implementation might take at least 10 years.”

The plan will increase the city’s public housing, though Lam did not say by how many.

According to reports released by the Hong Kong Housing Authority, the average waiting time for public housing in 2020 is about six years. For the single elderly applicants aged above 58, it is about four years. 

Many waiting for public housing live in cramped subdivided flats. Currently, 209,700 people live in units averaging one fourth to one third the size of a standard flat, according to the 2016 population by-census. 

in July, Xia Baolong, director of the Hong Kong and Macau Affairs Office, urged Hong Kong to scrap subdivided flats and “cage homes” by 2049. 

Beijing’s top representative in the city, Luo Huining, followed up by paying visits to such homes on National Day last week.

Increasing land supply with more affordable houses has been a long battle for Hong Kong governments. 

Former Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying set to provide 75,000 public houses under his tenure, with only 51,373 completed. Lam also faced criticism for using temporary vacant houses as “transitional housing”.

“The Northern Metropolis will be the most important area in Hong Kong that facilitates our development integration with Shenzhen and connection with the GBA,” said Lam.

《The Young Reporter》

The Young Reporter (TYR) started as a newspaper in 1969. Today, it is published across multiple media platforms and updated constantly to bring the latest news and analyses to its readers.


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