New measures will free up more land: Carrie Lam

Chief Executive Carrie Lam said on Wednesday that the government will adopt various measures to free up more land for development, such as unlocking ancestral sites in the New Territories and making it easier to trigger the redevelopment of old buildings.

During her policy address, Lam said people have suggested that the government should ease sale restrictions on so-called Tso/Tong lands.

“I agree that to pragmatically break the current impasse in developing Tso/Tong lands, we may consider amending the New Territories Ordinance on the premise that the Tso/Tong tradition should be respected and the legitimate interests of Tso/Tong members be protected,” she said.

“The secretary for home affairs will set up a working group with the Heung Yee Kuk New Territories to conduct a review and work out specific amendment proposals within a year in collaboration with the Development Bureau and other relevant departments.”

Lam also said officials will further review the use of green belt land with lower ecological value than country parks, while the development of wetlands and wetland buffer areas will be handled under a proposed Northern Metropolis plan.

The CE said there is a need for the government to adopt more effective measures to speed up urban redevelopment and renewal, noting that the number of private buildings aged 50 years or above has surged from 3,900 to 8,600 over the past decade.

The Urban Renewal Authority will be asked to carry out planning studies and formulate renewal plans for Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po, like it did for Mong Kok and Yau Ma Tei.

Lam said officials will also make it easier to trigger the redevelopment of old buildings, and developers would in future no longer have to acquire at least 80 percent of a block before applying for compulsory land sale.

“We will explore ways to lower the compulsory sale thresholds under the Land (Compulsory Sale for Redevelopment) Ordinance to expedite redevelopment of aged buildings. During the process, the Development Bureau will give due consideration to factors such as minority owners’ interests and building conditions, and gauge the views of stakeholders,” she said.

The CE said the government has already identified about 350 hectares of land to produce some 330,000 public housing units for the coming decade, adding that it will strive to secure some 170 hectares in the next 10 years to provide 100,000 private flats.