Date
20 July 2017
A brownfield in Hung Shui Kiu is serving as a container storage yard. The government is being urged to put such sites to more productive use. Photo: devb.gov.hk
A brownfield in Hung Shui Kiu is serving as a container storage yard. The government is being urged to put such sites to more productive use. Photo: devb.gov.hk

Govt urged to focus on brownfields to boost land for housing

The Hong Kong government must focus on some of the so-called brownfield sites in order to unlock more land for housing development and rein in home prices, a civic group said on Sunday.

According to the Liber Research Community, brownfields in Hong Kong add up to a total of 1,190 hectares, or about the size of 63 Victoria Parks.

About 300 hectares of the brownfields are said to be in north Yuen Long, the North District and Tuen Mun.

Brownfields refer to land that has been zoned for industrial or commercial use but is now mainly used for other purposes such as storage dumps.

In Hong Kong, brownfield sites are mostly in New Territories, serving as open storage facilities, recycling yards, car-repair workshops, etc. The land utilization is often incompatible with the surroundings.

While brownfield development is an urban planning process aimed at maximizing the utility of available land resources, it has not be seen as an attractive option when comparing to greenfield development.

The reason is because most brownfields are located on derelict or abandoned sites with various degrees of contamination.

But Liber Research is urging the government to take a fresh look at the sites and put them to more productive use, Apple Daily reported.

The civic group found that 472.7 hectares of the brownfields are currently used for purposes of storage and recycling, while 305.7 hectares are serving as legal or illegal yards for containers.

Of the rest, about 171.5 hectares are being used as parking lots while 242.1 hectares are either lying idle or are damaged.

Chan Kim-ching, a member of the Liber Research Community, said detailed official statistics are lacking on the brownfields and there has been no clear policy as to how to deal with the sites.

The government should consider making development of some brownfields a priority to tackle the housing problem, Chan said.

Authorities must utilize brownfields rather than take away land from the country parks, he said.

Chan believes political pressures were behind the government’s lack of action on the matter so far.

The Conservancy Association, a group that seeks to protect the environment and natural heritage, has suggested that the government should establish a database for brownfields and take reference from policies of other countries to develop them.

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TL/AC/RC

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