The government’s recent announcement of building thousands of Light Public Housing (LPH) units in Kai Tak has sparked controversy among the community.
On January 30, the Housing Bureau announced that the Kai Tak site, located on Olympic Avenue, will be one of the eight selected plots for the Light Public Housing (LPH) scheme. The project in Kai Tak will provide a total of 10,700 units, which will take two years to build and be removed after a five-year use.
Distribution of the eight selected plots for the LPH project. Map: Michelle Chu
What is LPH?
The concept of LPH was proposed by Chief Executive John Lee in the Policy Address 2022, with an aim to reduce the city’s years-long wait for public rental housing by speeding up the building progress. As the LPH will adopt simple designs and Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) approach, its construction time will be shorter than that of traditional public rental housings. The government expects to provide 30,000 temporary LPH units in the coming five years.
Reaction from Kai Tak residents
The announcement has soon drawn opposition from Kai Tak residents, citing concerns that the project will affect the government’s original plan in developing the area into the second Central Business District (CBD2), where several Grade A office buildings and a world-class sports complex will be constructed.
“We understand the importance of improving the living environment of those who are now living in the subdivided flats, but the government should have done enough local consultation before choosing Kai Tak as a site for the LPH,” said Kai Tak Oasis Resident Derek Wong.
Wong added, “Will the residents in LPH move out after five years? Can the existing transport network in Kai Tak accommodate thousands of people moving in? They are all of our concerns.”
Secretary for Housing Winnie Ho Wing-yin wrote a post on her social media page on February 1 that the project will not affect the government’s long-term plan of developing the area into the CBD2. Ho added that the existing transport network in Kai Tak has sufficient capacity to accommodate the additional population.
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Despite explanations from the government, Kai Tak residents rallied outside of Central Government Offices to express their objection towards the construction of LPH in their neighbourhood.
A “rescue boat” for people living in substandard housing
Despite opposition, Ho later said that the government will not turn down the project in Kai Tak and hold any consultation to seek advice from the residents. Ho citied that the LPH project would be a “rescue boat” for people who were now having poor living environment so that the government had no time to hesitate.
According to a survey conducted by the Federation of Trade Unions (FTU), which interviewed about 300 people who are living in substandard housing and waiting for public rental housing, about 70% of them welcome the LPH project and around 60% of them would like to apply for the LPH built in Kai Tak.
On February 8, the Legislative Council’s Public Work Subcommittee approved a $14.9 billion funding for the LPH project, including the Kai Tak’s one.
Balancing the interests of different stakeholders will continue to be a struggle for the government in tacking the housing problem.
Featured Image: Michelle Chu