Many Hongkongers have concerns over the so-called public-private partnership (PPP) model that would allow the government to tap idle private farmland in the New Territories for residential development to alleviate the city’s housing shortage, a recent survey shows.
According to the poll, commissioned by the think tank Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre, 41.5 percent of the respondents thought the PPP might result in the transfer of benefits from the government to property developers, while 30.6 percent favored the appointment of a regulatory body to ensure that the housing program is open and fair, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The survey, conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies of the Chinese University of Hong Kong, was based on telephone interviews with a random sampling of 1,002 Hong Kong residents aged 18 or above. It was done from Feb. 6 to 14 this year.
The results clearly show that Hongkongers don’t have much faith in the PPP model, which was proposed by Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply.
When asked about housing supply in the short to medium term, 27.3 percent of the respondents preferred developing “land granted for private recreational use” while 23.3 percent favored “land owned by developers”.
As neither of the two options enjoyed an overwhelming majority of those surveyed, the think tank said this may indicate that society does not have an obvious stance on how to utilize land resources in the short to medium term and the difficulty of looking for land for housing will persist in the near future.
Lau Ming-wai, vice chairman of the think tank, said more than 1,000 hectares of land currently owned by developers can be a major source of land supply to meet short- and medium-term demand.
Lau, who is also chairman of Chinese Estates Holdings Ltd. (00127.HK), said the success of the PPP model depends on how the rules of the game are designed. He called on the public to continue discussing the PPP option.
Andrew Wan Siu-kin, deputy chairman of the Legislative Council’s Panel on Housing, said the government could invoke the Land Resumption Ordinance to take back private farmland for housing development.
Lau agreed but warned that such a strategy could delay the release of land supply for housing as it involves legal procedures.
In the survey, 44 percent of the respondents favored the development of brownfield sites, referring to deserted or damaged agricultural and industrial land, 26 percent preferred land reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, while 12 percent supported the development of areas in the periphery of country parks.
As to what type of housing should be given priority to, 44 percent wanted public rental housing, 22 percent preferred the Home Ownership Scheme, while 15 percent backed the Starter Homes scheme.
Meanwhile, the 30-member Task Force on Land Supply is set to begin on Thursday a five-month public consultation on how to increase land supply.
According to a source, the expert panel has prepared an 80-page consultation paper to guide the public on the issues involved.
The paper cites the need for 108 hectares of residential land to meet the city’s housing needs over the next eight years. It lists 18 options to bolster land supply, including their pros and cons.
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