Our Hong Kong Foundation Releases Public Poll Results on Land and Housing
Every 4 in 5 adults find Hong Kong’s overcrowded living space a problem
46% of survey respondents support the idea of reclamation
and artificial island for increasing land supply
(02 May 2018 - Hong Kong) Our Hong Kong Foundation (“OHKF”) today announced the results of a public opinion poll on the issue of land and housing supply, showing a grave concern about the acute shortage of land supply and a consensus for developing a new town measuring the size of Sha Tin among 60% of respondents. Specifically, more than 45% of respondents support the idea of large-scale reclamation outside Victoria Harbour, taking a lead over those who oppose by more than 10%. Likewise, almost half of the respondents are in favour of the government proposal to build an artificial island in the waters east of Lantau Island, leading by more than 21% over those who oppose.
80% of residents find themselves in “overcrowded living space”
The survey, commissioned by OHKF and conducted by the Hong Kong Institute of Asia-Pacific Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, was based on telephone interviews with 1,002 Hong Kong residents between 21 March and 28 March. Some 77.7% are troubled by the problem of “crowded living space”, and among them 35.7% consider the growing challenge of Hong Kong’s living environment to be “very urgent”.
In a recent public policy advocacy report, Lacunae in Land Planning: Undersized, Undersupplied and Underestimated, OHKF points out that Hong Kong’s average living space per person is intolerably low at 170 square feet per capita, lagging behind Singapore’s average of 270 square feet by 100 square feet and further indicating a worrying trend of overcrowding in Hong Kong.
60% see the need for a new town the size of Sha Tin
How much new land will Hong Kong need to improve its living environment and support its long-term development? According to the survey, 62.3% of respondents agree that a new town the size of Sha Tin is necessary to support future development; only 24.1% do not agree while 13.5% are not sure.
More significantly, among the 62.3% of respondents who are in favour, some 59.2% believe Hong Kong needs to develop at least two or more new towns the size of Sha Tin (Note 1) (for a total of 7,200 hectares), reflecting a strong public conviction for new town development and an underestimation of projected demand for 4,800 hectares of new land over the next three decades stipulated in the government’s “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030” (“Hong Kong 2030+”).
45.3% support reclamation outside Victoria Harbour;
Reclamation with minimal environmental impact even better
Historically, reclamation has always been a major source of land supply for the development of new towns in Hong Kong – concurred by 45.3% of respondents in the survey as they favour reclamation outside Victoria Harbour as a means to create new land for the development of new towns; and 1 in 5 among these respondents are “strongly” in favour of reclamation.
On the contrary, only 33.9% oppose to the idea of relying on reclamation outside Victoria Harbour; of these respondents, only a minority of 5.6% strongly disapprove of the idea. Strikingly, some 20.8% of respondents are neutral or not sure.
The survey also reveals a 47% approval rating for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour as favourable means of increasing land supply if the government can promise doing so while minimizing the environmental impact as much as possible.
Nearly half support an artificial island east of Lantau Island
The government proposal put forward in 2014 to construct an artificial island in the waters east of Lantau Island is supported by 46% of respondents in the survey; only 24.9% oppose in a differential by more than 21.1%.
OHKF believes the data revealed in the survey indicate a general consensus that Hong Kong urgently needs a large-scale supply of land mass to cope with future development; almost half of Hong Kong residents are in favour of reinstating the means of large-scale reclamation outside Victoria Harbour to ease the current shortage of land supply.
OHKF also believes the public approval rating for reclamation will very likely be higher if those 20% who have no opinion are made aware of the advantage for Hong Kong by raising their awareness of the growing challenge through publicity campaigns.
Over 90% of HK residents find their living space “too small” and a shortage of public housing
In talking with the public across universities, chambers of commerce and other professional bodies about research on land and housing, OHKF has also conducted a number of surveys to gauge their views on land supply.
From 314 sets of completed survey submitted between 4 March and 19 March, about 93% of respondents said Hong Kong’s current average living space – at 170 square feet per capita – is simply too small, compared to Singapore’s average of 270 square feet per person; only 7% think it is about the “right” size.
Meanwhile, 92% in the OHKF survey believe there is a shortage of public housing at the moment.
A majority of HK residents associate the housing problem with the shortage of land supply
On the shortage of housing and deteriorating living environment in Hong Kong, 63.5% of survey respondents associate the problem with the shortage of land supply. As many as 84% of respondents agree that Hong Kong will need to develop at least three or more new towns the size of Sha Tin (Note 1), or roughly 10,800 hectares of new land. 61% of respondents believe reclamation outside Victoria Harbour is the most effective solution.
The issue of “small living space” affecting 80% of people is socially alarming
“Results of the public opinion poll reflect the problem of housing being undersized, undersupplied and underestimated; it is seriously alarming when 80% of Hong Kong residents are plagued by overcrowded living space”, said Stephen Wong, Deputy Executive Director and Head of Public Policy Institute, OHKF. “To improve our living quality and allow people to live more sparsely and comfortably, we have to find a new way of increasing land supply. OHKF estimates a future demand for 9,000 hectares of new land, and large-scale reclamation outside Victoria Harbour is simply the most effective solution.”
OHKF Senior Researcher Ryan Ip pointed out that Hong Kong has stopped building new towns for nearly 20 years since Tung Chung was completed in the 1990s. This public poll – in addition to revealing a public consensus for new town development and large-scale reclamation – is also more comprehensive in that it covered a long-term public view about Hong Kong’s future development holistically. “We can see that the public support level for an artificial island east of Lantau is comparable to the public support level for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour as a way to increase land supply”, he said.
NOTE 1: The new town of Sha Tin (including Ma On Shan) totals 3,590 hectares; according to the draft Outline Zoning Plan (OZP), Sha Tin itself (excluding Ma On Shan) measures 2,780 hectares.