The housing issue is very likely to be a major campaign theme in this year’s Legislative Council election.
However, like in the previous elections, candidates often seem to be unable to think outside the box, and debates on how to solve our housing shortage have often focused on how to increase land supply and build more new towns.
Our town planners and bureaucrats are all firm believers in the town planning doctrines laid down by English town-planning expert Ebenezer Howard back in 1898.
According to his doctrine, a city should be planned and designed according to its designated functions.
Simply put, a city should always be divided into different functional zones which fulfill their roles separately, hence the CBD, the main residential area, the industrial district, the highways and the suburban areas.
For more than a hundred years, Howard’s doctrines have been hailed as the holy grail in the field of town planning, and few have ever questioned their rationale.
The problem is, Howard’s doctrines do not necessarily apply to Hong Kong.
Unless our town planners and decision-makers can be more receptive to new ideas and think outside the box, town planning in our city will only get increasingly out of touch with reality and real needs.
The full text of this article appeared in Chinese in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Aug 1.
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]
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