Urban renewal is optimum use of Hong Kong's 'precious land'

Hong Kong’s continuing prosperity boom, excepting the short dip in late 2008 due to the financial crisis, has created new jobs and stimulated th economy. But on the downside, it has put pressure on the supply of housing land – and that has put the government under pressure to help those aspiring to home ownership.

As Carrie Lam, secretary for development of the Government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, explained at the MIPIM Asia opening ceremony, one solution to which it has turned is the the re-use of brownfield land in the urban centre.

Lam added that urban renewal is our way to more efficiently put to optimum re-use our precious land resources in the centre of Urban Hong Kong”.

Lam said that the government’s first objective is not increasing values but regenerating the city centre and improving the lot of citizens living in dilapidated environments.

Between 2001 and 2009, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), in partnership with private developers, redeveloped around 65 old buildings per year, creating around 12,000 apartments, over 328,000 sq.m of commercial space, offices and hotels, and about 53,000 sq m of government, institutional and community facilities.

And there is no on-going shortage of stock, according to Lam. She said that there are about 4,000 buildings aged 50 years of over in Hong Kong – a figure that is increasing by 500 each year because of the number of 1950s and 1960s concrete-built housing blocks.

Some streamlining has been necessary. Lam said that the URA’s redevelopment projects have increasingly encountered local resistance because of the “top-down approach” to planning developments.

This is set to change, however. About a month before MIPIM Asia was staged, the secretary for development for the Hong Kong Government’s development bureau announced a revised, more inclusive urban renewal strategy, “embodying three core values: public participation, district based and people centred”, Lam said.

This article was taken from MIPIM Asia Review 2010. Read more here.

Top image credit : Photobank gallery

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