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RICS Submitted Short, Medium and Long Term Recommendations for Increasing Land and Housing Supply

 

HONG KONG, Jan. 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- With growing concern over housing policy and increasing property prices among the public as well as the office supply in Hong Kong, Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) has recently consolidated members' feedback and submitted recommendations on short, medium and long term measures to increase land and housing supply. RICS hopes the Policy Address can address Hong Kong residents' housing needs, and at the same time increase commercial property land supply.

Short Term - Relocation of Government Offices to Free Up Space in CBD

RICS calls for, in the short term, use of vacant or temporary occupied government sites and buildings in prime districts, including those designated for GI/C, to meet the imminent land demand for housing and office / commercial developments. RICS urges the government to review its portfolio of vacant / under utilised government buildings and sites which have been zoned for specific uses but have no plan to be developed in short to medium term in the CBD for office / commercial development, which would maintain and enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness internationally. Successful examples were quoted from the UK, Singapore and Malaysia where government offices are moved away from CBD to release space for commercial development. 

In addition to releasing prime commercial space, relocation of government offices can also realise reduced operating costs, enhance a more balanced district development, and, at the same time, expedite modernization of government facilities.

RICS also envisage a number of vacant sites that zoned for GI/C or OU purpose and have been left vacant or put to temporary uses for many years, are suitable to be rezoned for residential purposes.  One example is the GI/C site at Shung Shun Street at Lei Yue Mun and another example is the OU site at the Junction of Shing Yip Street and Wai Fat Road, Kwun Tong. These sites were suitable for rezoning for residential development, but have been temporary occupied by fee paying car parks for years.  RICS urges the Government to holistically review all the vacant government sites that were zoned for GI/C or OU purpose but without solid planned use so as to release them for meeting the imminent housing needs.

Medium Term - Re-activate Agency to Expedite Industrial Redevelopment 

In the medium term, RICS believes that redevelopments of existing urban industrial areas can be expedited via a centralised government agency playing a similar role of the Development Opportunities Office (DOO) from the last administration in providing one-stop services.  Meanwhile, RICS recommends provision of policy or financial incentives to aged industrial building owners to re-develop properties for alternative uses. Also, the administration can consider relaxation of re-development rules and regulations for qualified industrial buildings, thus stimulating redevelopment projects, and through the process, upgrading communities where introduction of adequate ancillary facilities and green areas is required.

There are numerous cases of private industrial buildings being converted into commercial properties. Yet the cost of redevelopment into residential use is too high to be cost effective and the process may be too complicated to be economically justifiable. With the increasing number of vacant industrial buildings in the private sector, RICS HK proposes a pilot scheme project, possibly within the Kowloon East district, to take forward conversion of selected vacant private industrial buildings into public housing estates. The pilot scheme project may require new rules.

Long Term - Land Reserve and Centralised Land Database to Facilitate Public Consultation 

In the long term, in recognizing that Hong Kong is facing a serious shortage of land supply for the next 10 to 20 years, RICS is in support of building up a land reserve to meet the long term demand.  The government's recent proposed new development areas in North East New Territories is an example which RICS has given supportive comments. 

Since land development and housing planning is a long-term process, there is a need for the government to identify suitable land for future development and to build up a land reserve. Currently, no single government body holds sufficient information to define whether any piece of land is developable or re-developable. Each department has their own professions, practices and concerns, which may give rise to discrepancies.

Given the lack of a centralised land database, policy makers, charged with the responsibility of making high-level strategic decisions, may rely on potentially erroneous reports that are based on incomplete or outdated data.  RICS HK recommends the appointment of a centralised government body to coordinate data collection, accuracy and compatibility as well as setting standards for the maintenance of data. Such a centralised database would serve the purpose of identifying suitable land for future development well in the long-run. However, this must go hand in hand with policy support. RICS HK is prepared to offer overseas experience and technical knowhow to the government in the formation of such a centralised data base. RICS hopes ultimately policy bureaux can make use of this centralised, user-friendly database in collecting public opinions in leading the discussion in planning Hong Kong's long term future via land development and housing initiatives.

Mr Kenneth Kwan, Chairman of RICS Hong Kong Board, said, "The surge of flat price and shortage of office supply have already invoked the need for a steady long term land supply in Hong Kong.  In the longer term, it is indisputable that more land is required to accommodate the population growth, cope with the rising aspiration for quality living environment and sustain the economic development." He added, "Hong Kong is in need to explore options to enhance the land supply and to expand land resources and to build up a sufficiently large land reserve over a period of time in order to ensure stable land supply, particularly for the residential property market with a view to making available sufficient land for building small and medium sized residential flats to keep their prices affordable."

About RICS & RICS Asia

RICS is the world's leading qualification when it comes to professional standards in land, property and construction. In a world where more and more people, governments, banks and commercial organisations demand greater certainty of professional standards and ethics, attaining RICS status is the recognised mark of property professionalism.

Over 100,000 property professionals working in the major established and emerging economies of the world have already recognised the importance of securing RICS status by becoming members.

RICS is an independent professional body that since 1868, has been committed to setting and upholding the highest standards of excellence and integrity - providing impartial, authoritative advice on key issues affecting businesses and society. RICS is a regulator of both its individual members and firms enabling it to maintain the highest standards and providing the basis for unparalleled client confidence in the sector.

The RICS Asia supports a network of over 11,000 individual professionals across the Asia Pacific region with an objective to help develop the property and construction markets in these countries, by introducing professional standards, best practice and international experience. It promotes RICS and its members as the natural advisors on all property matters. It also ensures that services and career development opportunities are provided to members.

The RICS Asia region covers national associations and local groups locating in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, The People's Republic of China and the SAR Hong Kong. It also has members working across the region such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos PDR, Macao, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan region, The Maldives, The Philippines, Timor East and Vietnam. For more information, please visit: www.ricsasia.org.

Media enquiry, please contact:
RICS Asia Public Relations Representative
Mr Andy Hung / Ms Polly Tsang
T: +852 2372 0090
F: +852 2372 0490
M: +852 9254 9250 / +852 6108 5435
E: andy@creativegp.com / polly@creativegp.com

Source: Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors