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Wednesday, September 21, 2016, 22:45

CE vows to continue with Wang Chau project

By Shadow Li

CE vows to continue with Wang Chau project
(From left) Secretary for Transport and Housing Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and Financial Secretary John Tsang meet the media during a press conference about the Wan g Chau development project at the Central Government Offices, Admiralty on Sept 21, 2016. (Roy Liu/China Daily)

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Wednesday vowed to continue with a major public housing project in Yuen Long. He said it demonstrated the government’s resolution and also the difficulties faced in boosting housing supply.

Leung made these comments at a press conference on Wednesday afternoon called to discuss the Wang Chau development plan. The project is expected to provide 17,000 housing units.

He said the government had decided to carry out the development plan in phases.

The strategy was to give less challenging parts of the project the go-ahead first in order to build 4,000 public rental housing flats. This is necessary in order to address the more difficult and controversial parts of the development later.

“This was my decision to carry out the development of the public housing program in phases, because as the Chief Executive of the government, I have to take charge,” he said.

The project centered on a piece of agricultural land in Wang Chau, Yuen Long. In 2012, it was proposed that this piece of land be redeveloped into a 17,000-unit housing project, together with an adjacent green belt.

The decision on a phased development is to avoid delaying the overall public housing provision for Yuen Long, explained Secretary for Housing and Transport Anthony Cheung Bing-leung.

CE vows to continue with Wang Chau project
The General View of Wang Chau area in Yuen Long District, Hong Kong. (Photo provide to China Daily)

Cheung was also at the press conference, along with Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah and acting secretary for development Eric Ma Siu-cheung.

The project cannot not go ahead if these three phases proceed in one go, he explained.

Cheung said the government will carry out a technical study and complete it within two years. It would also try to address the remaining brownfield site issues, then the second and third phases can proceed.

Measures are being worked out to relocate the businesses conducted in the brownfield sites covered by the two phases.

These are very huge sites that provide rare opportunities for a large-scale public housing development. Therefore, Leung said he chaired the taskforce. He added that he was later informed at an official meeting of objections to the development from the local communities.

In April 2014, the government revised its plan to carry out the first phase of the project, building 4,000 public rental flats on the green belt only. This is to be completed in 2024-25.

Leung appealed to the public for understanding of the difficulties facing policymakers devising these policies. They often had to balance different interests in society.

He said everything the government had achieved in regard to housing had not come easily.

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