Think tank says brownfield sites underestimated by 200 hectares

Think tank says brownfield  sites underestimated by 200 hectares

The area of brownfield sites listed in a public consultation on land supply has been misleadingly underestimated by 200 hectares, says a think tank.

Liber Research Community slammed the government, which made the estimation, for playing down brownfield sites as a source of land supply.

The public was given misleading information during the consultation, in which they had to choose among 18 land supply options to meet a land shortage of 1,200 hectares, it said.

The think tank estimated there were 1,521 hectares of brownfield sites in the New Territories, 200 hectares more than the task force told the public.

Member Lam Yan said the research was based on satellite pictures. Among the brownfield sites they identified, 1,023 hectares are not included in any development plans. If all of them were developed, they would be able to meet 85 percent of the 1,200-hectare land shortage.

The think tank disputed the government estimation that only 330 hectares of brownfield sites could be developed in the next 30 years.

The government had claimed that most of the brownfield sites were scattered, making them unsuitable for development. But Lam said most of the sites come in decent sizes – more than 700 hectares consist of plots no less than two hectares each.

Lam said the government and the task force intentionally played down the potential of brownfield development, making people choose reclamation as a land supply option.

Another member, Brian Wong Shiu-hung, criticized the government and pro-government think tanks such as Our Hong Kong Foundation for exaggerating the cost of compensation in retaking brownfield sites. The foundation claimed it would cost HK$1,300 a hectare to reclaim islands to the east of Lantau, lower than the HK$1,560 a hectare cost for compensating brownfield site operators.

But Wong said most brownfield operators would not be given the highest compensation of HK$1,560 a hectare, but around HK$337 to HK$562 a hectare, due to their zoning.

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