Property tycoon Gordon Wu Ying-sheung has unveiled a grand reclamation plan to solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis. Wu hopes to create 2,600 hectares of land for homes to the east of Lantau Island, and another 445 hectares near Lamma Island.
Wu’s blueprint aims to link existing land masses in Hong Kong’s waters, and is more ambitious than the government’s “Lantau Tomorrow Vision” proposal.
The estimated cost of Wu’s plan is HK$334.2 billion, compared to the predicted cost of between HK$400 billion and HK$500 billion for the government proposal.
During an interview with the media last Friday, the 82-year-old founder and chairman of Hopewell Holdings said it was very sad that the average living space per person in Hong Kong was just 173 sq ft. This was only slightly higher than that of Dhaka, the capital of Bangladesh, which is the smallest in the world.
“Many young people can’t afford to buy flats amid soaring property prices, and a substantial amount of land is held by a few property developers,” Wu said.
The government’s plan claims to provide up to 400,000 flats, but Wu thought it was not bold enough to resolve the city’s housing crisis.
Wu’s proposal was submitted to Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on October 8. Under his plan, reclamation to the east of Lantau would link the islands of Kau Yi Chau, Hei Ling Chau, Peng Chau, and Sunshine Island to create 2,600 hectares of land in total, leaving no water channels between them. Of this area, 2,180 hectares would be reclaimed land.
He said the average living space would be increased to 222 sq ft per person, and 70 per cent of such flats would be set aside for affordable public housing, priced at about HK$2,500 per square foot.
Albert Lai Kwong-tak, the policy convenor of pro-democracy group Professional Commons, said Wu’s vision was “outdated”, and ignored important concepts such as ecological protection.
Lai added that Wu, who also runs an infrastructure business, should declare his interests, or what he stands to gain, when proposing such developments.