The government failed to include 301 hectares of vacant or under-utilised land – which could be used to build interim housing and community facilities – in its ongoing land supply consultation exercise, according to research published on Tuesday.

The Liber Research Community, a land research group, said that the parcels of under-utilised government land are located in Kwai Tsing, Yuen Long, Tuen Mun, Tai Po and elsewhere. Around 60 per cent of the sites are being used as temporary car parks, storage spaces and temporary offices, the group said.

Liber hidden government land
Liber Research Community members. Photo: Handout.

“Until the government takes a detailed look at its existing land resources, we think it has no legitimacy to push for development projects like land reclamation,” said researcher Yeung Ha-chi.

“The government said they are continuously monitoring these land parcels, but it does not disclose details on their distribution, so the public can only passively wait for the government to ‘release’ the land bit by bit,” he added.

The group located the parcels of land using map tool ArcGIS, satellite and aerial photographs, and site visits.

Narrowing the findings down to areas that are flat and connected to roads, the group found 532 parcels of underutilised government land – equal to 14 times the area of Tai Koo Shing, or 1.7 Fanling golf courses.

The group said that the sites could be used to build about 90,000 container home units, 43 sports centres, and healthcare facilities to serve 120,000 elderly people.

Yeung said the government showed bias in its land supply consultation – a five-month exercise due to end on September 26 – by deliberately downplaying the viability of some pieces of government land.

Lack of monitoring 

Liber researcher Amon Yiu Yeuk-wa added that there was a pattern of delay and mismanagement where development plans for some of the sites never came to fruition.

Yiu said that land reserved for a Joint User Complex at Lei King Wan was delayed for 10 years, and a property meant for a container terminal near Stonecutters Island was left vacant for eight years. Some pieces of land were allocated to government departments, which also failed to develop the land according to the original plans.

Liber hidden government land
From left: Chan Kim-ching, Brian Wong Siu-hung, Yiu Yeuk-wa. Photo: Handout

The group urged the government to maintain a comprehensive public database on government land and improve its monitoring.

In response to Liber’s report, a Development Bureau spokesperson said that vacant land cannot be simply regarded as developable and that temporary-use lands cannot be terminated or relocated at any time.

“Their development potential… should not be overestimated,” the spokesperson said, adding that the Bureau did not rule out the possibility of developing such sites in the future.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.