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Executive Councillor & Liberal Party Legislator representing Catering Functional Constituency Tommy

2019-10-13

Executive Councillor & Liberal Party Legislator representing Catering Functional Constituency Tommy

2019-10-13
Dear citizens,
 
We are all looking forward to the Policy Address to be delivered by the Chief Executive Carrie Lam this coming Wednesday. The CE has always put solving the housing problem as one of the top priorities in her agenda.
 
Without doubts, we are in urgent need of exploring new initiatives to increase land and housing supplies in the face of exorbitant property prices and the average waiting time of 5.5 years for public housing.
 
In this light, I have called on the CE to consider one of my advices to develop the Lok Ma Chau Loop (the Loop) as a public housing area instead of an innovation and technology park (the Park) as planned.
 
In my estimation, about 72 000 residential units, comprising Home Ownership Scheme and public rental housing flats, can be built at this 87-hectare Loop. Another option is to divide the Loop in half, one for the Park and the other for public housing, where we can also have about 30 000 to 40 000 flats.
 
In order to do this, the Hong Kong government has to first seek permission to change land usage from the Shenzhen government who originally owned this area.
 
To my understanding, the foundation work of the Loop are well under way and funding proposals for its site investigation have already been approved by Legco. Once the change of land use is agreed, housing construction work on the Loop can commence shortly and without extra cost. It will definitely ease the city’s housing shortage with an immediate effect.
 
In fact, the Greater Bay Area would be an ideal site for the development of the innovation and technology hub, creating career paths for Hong Kong people in the area of high technology.
 
Apart from this, the Government should continue to increase land supply in Hong Kong with a multi-pronged approach, ranging from short, medium to long term measures.
 
The Liberal Party has long opined that a public-private partnership approach to the development of a variety of housing is an alternative to solving housing shortage and has urged the government to increase incentives for developers to join the partnership approach, by increasing the plot ratio especially in the area along the railroad.
 
We have repeatedly stressed that the fundamental solution to the housing problem in Hong Kong is to increase land supply. Consequently, we support the Lantau Tomorrow Vision where an area of about 1,700 hectares will be created through reclamation. Although there are voices against this project, we stressed that the Government should continue to elaborate on the objectives of the project and clarify the public’s doubts in order to win their support.
 
Recently, there is a suggestion of invoking Lands Resumption Ordinance to speed up the process of recovering land. Indeed, it is a long-standing ordinance that has been used for many times since the handover of Hong Kong. The government should explain clearly to the public that it will exercise this power for the purpose of building public housing only and plan to offer landowners a higher compensation rate to remove unnecessary hurdles in acquiring lands.
 
I would like to point out that to build housing in Hong Kong has always been severely deferred by opposition from local community as well as its complicated procedures involving numbers of bureaus and departments, to name a few: the Town Planning Board; the Environmental Protection Department; the Highways Department etc. Each department works separately without liaison and takes up to one or two years to complete their investigation before giving approval. A housing project would take up over 10 or even 20 years to complete all necessary procedures.
 
The Liberal Party believes that there should be a complete overhaul of these red tapes and bureaucracies among bureaus and departments to expedite the pace of approval change of land use and housing development.
 
We are pleased to note that the Government has agreed with us and adopted the idea of according priority to transportation infrastructure in the planning of Lantau Tomorrow Vision. This should be extended to cover all undeveloped areas.
 
To conclude, the Liberal Party is exploring practical and realistic solutions to solve our housing problem.
 
As the LegCo will resume meeting this Wednesday, it is high time for us to address our deep-seated problems and get back to the right track as soon as possible.

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