Government urged to adopt large-scale reclamation plan to meet future needs

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Reclamation should be seen as a feasible and effective solution to Hong Kong’s housing issue, major think tank researchers assert.

Photo credits: CRECCHKI

Our Hong Kong Foundation, a major public policy think tank in Hong Kong, presents its proposal to radically reclaim land from Hong Kong’s waters in order to meet the city’s development needs. Researchers William Tsang and Ryan Ip claim that 9,000 hectares of land will be required in the next three decades to provide for the ever increasing demand for housing, commercial and industrial spaces.

According to a report submitted by Our Hong Kong Foundation, Hong Kong will need 9,000 hectares of land in the next three decades to ensure a fair living environment for future generations. This means the ability to increase the average person’s living space from the current 170 square feet to 270 square feet, on par with that of Singapore. This proposal is considerably more radical than what the government is at the moment planning to develop in the upcoming few decades, with projects such as the East Lantau Metropolis and Hung Shui Kiu development area providing a mere 4,000 hectares.

Speaking at a sharing luncheon hosted by the China Real Estate Chamber of Commerce (Hong Kong and International Chapter Limited), the pair of researchers from Our Hong Kong Foundation, William Tsang and Ryan Ip, presented their case for large-scale reclamation. They proposed constructing new artificial islands between Lamma Island and the south coast of Lantau. The current new towns of Tseung Kwan O and Tuen Mun would also be extended further out into the sea.

Ip justified their proposal by citing the fact that other cities, such as Singapore and Macau, have a much larger proportion of their land being reclaimed land. He pointed out that most new towns have historically been constructed out of reclaimed land and that the notion of reclamation should not be associated with fear and revulsion.

Tsang argued that Hong Kong would lose its edge to neighbouring competitors, such as Singapore and Shanghai, if sufficient land were not provided for continual development of housing and infrastructure. The exorbitant costs and sheer lack of space are already driving investors away from the city.

Ivan Ko, Chairman of CRECCHKI (seated middle), with William Tsang (left of Ko) and Ryan Ip (right of Ko), alongside attendees of the seminar.

There have also been recent reports suggesting large-scale reclamation to solve housing crisis, including a controversial proposal by scholars from the University of Hong Kong to reclaim Tai Po’s Plover Cove Reservoir for housing development.

When asked if such large-scale reclamation was too much too soon and whether it would lead to a housing bubble, Tsang was confident that there would be a continual increase in demand for housing as the economy is growing.

With regards to the feasibility of large-scale reclamation in comparison to alternatives such as utilising brownfield sites and releasing land from private developers, the pair had yet to present statistics or a cost-benefit analysis, but said they encourage keeping an open mind and considering all options.