3rd  August 2018

Land for Development and Homes


  • Hong Kong’s land problem is best epitomized by the following statement: limited land, inappropriate allocation, and inefficient housing development.
  • The recent report by the Task Force on Land Supply (April 2018) observed that there exists a conservative estimate of 1,200 hectares of land shortfall in light of anticipated demands for land over the upcoming decade.
  • Existing proposals fail to consider the need for a cogent vision that incorporates considerations of quality of life and wider developmental objectives into property and housing development.
  • Moreover, the current over-emphasis upon public engagement without proper in-depth discussion as to our vision or future needs fails to either sufficiently inform the public as to necessary tradeoffs or any long term development goals.
  • This paper advances the claim that land supply must be increased substantially and rapidly, through both strategic land reclamation and land conversion that is cognizant of domestic and environmental interests.



  • There exists a severe shortage of land in the status quo.
  • This is reflected both by the increasing population density within residential units, as evidenced by the steady increase in the number of households amongst private renters since 2006; as well as the rapidly surging real property price indices amongst different types of properties.
  • Such land shortages have real and pressingly pernicious impacts:
    • Lowest accommodation space per capita in the region (160 s.f. as oppose to Tokyo 190 s.f.; Shanghai 250 s.f.: Singapore, Taipei 260 s.f.; Shenzhen 300 s.f.)
    • Greater stratification and inequality in wealth;
    • Lack of diversification in types of employment opportunities offered, as a result of the imperative within corporations to maximise revenue generation in making up for exorbitant rental costs;
    • Social disillusionment induced by lack of social mobility.
    • Limited options to our economic development
  • Housing shortage has been a persistent issue since the late 1980s; recent years have nonetheless seen a stark increase in its prominence.
  • Office, commercial and amenity space are also in great shortage and is a drag on our economic and social development. Prices and rent of non-domestic space has been rising even faster than domestic space.


Our Vision and Strategy

  • We envision that the genuine solution to Hong Kong’s land issue must be cognizant of and sensitive to Hong Kong’s future development, its situated role within the wider Belt and Road and Big Bay Area frameworks, and its unique geographical advantage.
  • The strategy we advocate endeavours to satisfy two primary objectives:
    • 1) Improving the domestic accommodation standard;
    • 2) Supporting economic prosperity and livelihood issues.
  • The above objectives should be achieved through proposed policies including but not limited to:
    • 1) Enhancing housing accommodation standards;
    • 2) Expanding volume of prime commercial and office space to attract investment, increase employment, and foster greater economic prosperity;
    • 3) Reclaiming land in areas such as the region to the east of Lantau Island to improve the spatial distribution of homes and jobs;
    • 4) Speeding up the planning process and development approval process involved in transforming New Territories agricultural land into useable land;
    • 5) Developing a land reserve for future policymaking.


Our Considerations

  • We advocate the reclamation of a site east of the Lantau Island even greater than the proposed 1000 hectares:
    • This involves the development of a sizable island to the East of the Lantau Island, with infrastructure and transportation that connect it to Hong Kong Island, Lantau Island, and the wider Big Bay Area;
    • There are two advantages to this: firstly, this makes available a large tract of land within a confined time span in an environmentally friendly manner; secondly, this bypasses the logistical and transactional costs involved in assembling a large number of small plots of land in the attempt to deliver a large aggregate amount of land.
  • We further propose a practical balance between the forming of public-private partnerships and public resumption to speed up the land conversion process in the New Territories:
    • Public-private partnerships may be instrumental in maintaining buy-in and willingness to collaborate amongst current landowners;
    • Public resumption must in turn take into account factors such as geographical contiguity and the prospective utility of the land in question;
    • Public resumption of land may not be advisable in circumstances where it overrides negotiations and procedurally just mechanisms that are integral in upholding private property rights.
  • We urge government to provide sufficient flexibility for developers in public-private partnerships to develop sites with a view to building communities with their own identities for public and private occupants.


Existing Solutions

  • We take issue with the report released by the Task Force on Land Supply (April 2018) for three primary reasons:
    • 1) The report fails to offer comprehensive guiding principles that are necessary and conducive for the generation of a nuanced and efficacious development strategy – the upshot is that the advocated public consultation remains highly fragmentary and slogan based;
    • 2) The report neglects the importance and urgency of improving the per capita living space, thus omitting a crucial component in housing policy – the quality and standards of accommodation;
    • 3) The report erroneously sidesteps the potentially controversial yet necessary step of continuing existing land development activities, such as resumption.

Our Proposals

  • Government should articulate a vision of future development that meets public expectations for a better living environment and a more prosperous economy.
  • To improve accommodation standards as a primary policy goal.
  • Government should communicate its vision and policy goal to the public clearly to rally public support so that the planning and development approval process for securing the necessary land supply will not be bogged down by contentious approval processes, long delays and indecision.
  • To reclaim a site east of the Lantau Island that could even be greater than the proposed 1000 hectares over time to provide more land and improve the spatial distribution of homes and jobs.
  • To adopt results oriented approach to transforming New Territories agricultural land into useable land using where flexible efficient and effective public-private partnerships and public resumption approaches.

We sincerely hope our vision and proposals is that of the Hong Kong people, and of our government.