Hong Kong’s Chief Executive Carrie Lam announced her 2018 policy address on Wednesday, giving focus to increasing the supply of land and public housing.

Addressing the legislature, Lam vowed to tackle the issue of housing in a “resolute and persistent manner,” and promised that 70 per cent of housing units on newly developed land will be reserved for public housing. Measures introduced include artificial islands east of Lantau, the development of brownfield sites, land sharing and the revitalisation of industrial buildings.

Carrie Lam policy address
Carrie Lam holding a copy of her 2018 Policy Address. Photo: GovHK.

“The Government’s vision for the development of Lantau covers the development areas at artificial islands with a total area of about 1,700 hectares near Kau Yi Chau and Hei Ling Chau in the Central Waters, North Lantau as well as the coastal areas of Tuen Mun… [which will provide] 260,000 to 400,000 residential units, with 70 per cent being public housing, and accommodating 700,000 to 1,100,000 people, and creating 340,000 jobs for the coming 20 to 30 years,” Lam said.

She said that a dedicated coordination office will be set up to implement her plan – called “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” – and will report directly to her.

Convener of the Executive Council Bernard Chan said Lam’s housing solution was the “best decision for Hong Kong.”

bernard chan
Bernard Chan. File photo: RTHK screenshot.

“I think the decision to find more land supply for Hong Kong is very important. Of course, reclamation is only one of the solutions, and is considered a longer-term solution – so we still need other shorter and medium-term solutions to ease the current shortage of land supply,” Chan said.

“There will continue to be [divisions] because, largely, there are a lot of vested interests, but we just have to move forward. If we continue to stall on this topic, we are all going to be suffering,” he added, referring to high property prices.

In Full: Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s 2018 Policy Address

New People’s Party chair Regina Ip said she agreed with Lam’s Lantau plan in principle, but wanted details on the cost.

Pro-democracy parties remain opposed to Lantau reclamation, with Jeremy Tam from the Civic Party saying the costs were too high: “It is going to spend money that belongs to several of our next generations… I don’t see how it can solve our issues.”

Land supply policies

Besides the artificial islands, Lam said the government will also speed up studies on brownfield sites – degraded land which was previously developed – in the New Territories. She also proposed a Land Sharing Pilot Scheme – another name for public-private partnership – to tackle privately owned land not covered by Government’s planned development.

policy address protesters.
Protesters demanding increased public housing. Photo: Holmes Chan/HKFP.

“To dispel public concerns, no less than 6o to 70 per cent of the increase in floor areas shared between the government and applicants must be used for public housing development, mainly subsidised sale flats,” Lam said.

brownfield policy address protest lam
Photo: inmediahk.net.

Lam added that the government will restart the scheme to update industrial buildings, which will allow for wholesale conversion into transitional housing.

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.