‘Cut back consultation to build public flats faster’

A think tank has called on the government to cut back public consultation on housing developments so it can build public flats faster.

That’s one of the suggestions floated by the Our Hong Kong Foundation on Monday to streamline procedures, so, it says, the waiting time for public housing can be shortened from almost six years to less than four.

The think tank said its series of proposals would help the government complete 120,000 flats within a few years.

The group’s top researcher for land and housing, Ryan Ip, said there’s no need to carry out “repeated” public consultation exercises.

“Ordinarily for large-scale [new town] developments, there are three rounds of public consultations. It takes at least three years,” he told an online press conference.

“The ideal way of doing this is to have one round of consultation, and that consultation has to be thorough, comprehensive and large-scale enough.”

Ip said more rounds of consultation could be conducted if a project involves environmental impact assessments or town planning changes.

The researcher said officials should do a better job in consolidating district councillors’ views so they don’t keep proposing changes to housing projects and causing delays.

For future new town developments, Ip said the authorities should carry out design and site formation work at the same time, instead of in phases.

He also said getting more private developers involved in designing and building public flats would also speed things up.

Meanwhile, the think tank’s lawmaker, Stephen Wong, said the government should cut red tape by setting up a dedicated department to coordinate “regional developments” and a specific office for each new town development.