Hong Kong's housing supply is set to improve significantly under the new government's policy drive. The Hong Kong Solidarity Fund yesterday predicted that the most optimistic scenario for public and private housing completions in the next 10 years would be 550,000 units, 28 per cent more than the Long Term Housing Strategy's target of 430,000 units for the next 10 years.
The waiting time for public housing in the next five years is expected to be reduced by one and a half years from its peak to 4.6 years in 2026/27, and the average annual completion of private housing will reach 19,000 units, exceeding the average of 18,200 units in the past five years. However, the housing problem of the grassroots has not yet been solved and many people are living in sub-divided units. The Foundation points out that the "Northern Metro Area" is the key to long-term housing supply, which will supply 60% of public housing in the second five years, and the authorities need to continue to implement the "Northern Metro" plan.
With the new government's emphasis on "speed, efficiency and quantity" in its land and housing policy, the Foundation's report foresees that with the timely delivery of 30,000 simple PRH units between 2023/24 and 2027/28, the average annual PRH production will reach 31,700 units, meeting the LTHS annual target, while the average annual PRH production after deducting the simple PRH units will be about 25,700 units.
The combined waiting time for PRH is expected to fall from a high of 6.1 years in 2021/22 to 4.6 years in 2026/27, close to the performance target set by the Government.
In addition, assuming the timely delivery and completion of all PRH sites and flats, and with the expected improvement in construction efficiency in the Policy Address, it is estimated that a total of around 360,000 PRH units will be completed in the next 10 years, meeting all the potential supply of flats for which sites have been identified, and exceeding the LTHS target by around 20%.
As for private housing, assuming that favourable policy measures such as the streamlining of development procedures are successfully implemented, the Foundation foresees an average annual completion of 19,000 units in the next five years, up by nearly 10% from last year's rolling five-year estimate of 17,300 units, and an improvement on the average completion of 18,200 units over the past five years.
However, on the basis of the currently identified developments alone, the average annual private residential completion in the second five-year period (2028 to 2032) is only expected to be around 13,900 units, which is still above the LTHS annual average target but will be almost 30% lower than the first five-year period.
According to the report, the plummeting supply of disposed private land since 2017/18 has already foreshadowed a decline in completions in five years' time. The key to increasing the number of completions is to unlock the development potential of the "North City". Assuming that all planning applications in the North City are taken forward, the average annual completion rate between 2028 and 2032 could reach 18,800 units.
Dr Lee Ching-yee, Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Solidarity Fund, said yesterday that the end of the three-year epidemic in Hong Kong and the Government's announcement of new policies and measures to improve the housing supply outlook should not be taken lightly. Many people living in sub-divided units are still waiting to be allocated a flat, and a large number of sandwich class and young families are looking forward to home ownership.
The authorities must follow the proposed supply route, reduce the waiting time for public housing in five years, and achieve the "Long Term Housing Strategy" public and private housing supply target in 10 years, so as to build a solid foundation for Hong Kong to continue to improve its living space and move towards a more liveable city.
According to Mr Ip Man-kei, Vice President of Solidarity Hong Kong Fund, in order to increase housing supply and alleviate the housing difficulties of the grassroots in a relatively short period of time, apart from implementing measures to streamline the land production process by shortening the land production period for large-scale development projects from 13 years to seven years, and reducing the land production process for small sites from six years to four years, in order to speed up the supply of housing, it is also necessary to have sufficient construction talents and introduce building technology to enhance construction efficiency, and popularise the use of assembled and composite construction The construction of transitional housing and simple public housing will be popularised to speed up the construction process.