Housing and land expected to be policy address focus

Measures on housing and land are expected to feature prominently in the Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s fifth Policy Address. Lam’s blueprint later this morning could include ways to free up more land in the New Territories.

Mainland officials have spoken about the need to tackle the city’s housing shortage, and political parties have been coming up with suggestions leading up to the address.

So, all eyes will be on how the Chief Executive aims to boost land supply.

Some of the ideas being floated include expanding the development of new towns in the New Territories — such as building on wetlands and green buffer land near Lok Ma Chau for a new business district there — and easing development restrictions for indigenous villagers’ ancestral land.

There have also been calls for the government to ease building restrictions and increase plot ratios — so taller structures can be built.

But some land researchers have expressed reservations about developing wetlands and green buffers, saying that would bring damage to the environment and eco-system.

Meanwhile, lawmakers have proposed making it easier to trigger the redevelopment of old buildings in urban areas, under the compulsory land sale scheme.

They also want the authorities to offer more concrete plans about relocating the Kwai Chung cargo terminals as a long-term option – in a bid to free up hundreds of hectares of land for housing.

Some councillors want the terminals moved to Lung Kwu Tan in Tuen Mun, where officials have been planning a large reclamation project.