A 60-year-old public housing estate in Hong Kong – known for its rainbow-coloured façade and home to over 17,000 residents – is set to be redeveloped, local media reported on Monday.

choi hung estate housing public property
Choi Hung estate. File Photo: Aleksandar Pasaric/Pexels.com.

The Instagram hotspot, sitting beneath the iconic Lion Rock, is one of the largest public housing estates in the city. Its redevelopment would add to the ten such projects currently underway, Ming Pao reported on Monday citing sources.

The news came one year after Chief Executive John Lee invited the Housing Authority to study the possibility of redeveloping another public housing estate in his Policy Address last year.

Choi Hung Estate, with 11 blocks of around 7,400 housing units, would be revitalised in phases, sources told local media. Details would be made public after the newly-restricted District Council race in December, according to Ming Pao.

Anthony Chiu, executive director of the Federation of Public Housing Estates, said during a Commercial Radio program on Monday that residents they spoke to wished for a swifter redevelopment plan, given the estate’s long history and deteriorating conditions.

Lion Rock housing
Hong Kong housing beneath Lion Rock. File photo: GovHK.

“Redevelopment does not take a short period of time,” he said in Cantonese. “It could take another 10 to 20 years, and the estate would be even older. So people hope that there will be a timeline and a clear relocation plan as soon as possible.”

He said that, similar to existing redevelopment projects such as Pak Tin Estate in Sham Shui Po, the plan for Choi Hung Estate would be divided into phases with residents relocated in groups, given the large number of units involved.

Nearby public housing projects on Wang Chiu Road and Mei Tung Estate could be used for rehousing residents, he added.

Bill Tang, a lawmaker representing Kowloon East, where the Choi Hung Estate is located, also said on Monday that local residents would welcome the plan, if it was made official, given the extended time such a project would require.

Bill Tang
Lawmaker Bill Tang speaks to reporters after the Policy Address on Oct. 25, 2023. Photo: Hillary Leung/HKFP.

“We think the government should adopt a prompt approach if it is to announce the redevelopment of Choi Hung Estate… with the overarching principle of rehousing [residents] in nearby areas,” he told reporters in Cantonese.

Decades long project

The ten redevelopment projects currently underway involve public housing estates and factory buildings, with preliminary estimates suggesting a future supply of around 32,000 housing units, according to Ming Pao. But the projects are also time consuming.

For instance, the redevelopment of the Southern district’s Wah Fu Estate, built in 1967, was introduced by then-Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in 2014. The project was divided into three phases and is expected to be completed in 2041, meaning it will take a total of 27 years, according to a Housing Authority document submitted to the District Council in 2021.

Chiu, on Monday, also said that – despite the time needed – the redevelopment of Choi Hung Estate could create more new flats as the height of its current buildings were restricted due to the nearby Kai Tak Airport, which closed in 1998.

He estimated that buildings as tall as 40 storeys could be erected, close to similar public housing projects in the neighbourhood. Facilities that address the needs of the aging residents could also be renewed, he added.

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Hans Tse is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press with an interest in local politics, academia, and media transformation. He was previously a social science researcher, with writing published in the Social Movement Studies and Social Transformation of Chinese Societies journals. He holds an M.Phil in communication from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Before joining HKFP, He also worked as a freelance reporter for Initium between 2019 and 2021, where he covered the height - and aftermath - of the 2019 protests, as well as the sweeping national security law imposed by Beijing in 2020.