Pun Chung Chan
Hong Kong is perhaps the city in this planet that is subject to the most intense development pressures. I said this not because Hong Kong has the highest population growth rate - there could well be other cities having higher population growth rates than us. I said this because our development pressures come not only from very high population growth, at an average rate of about one million every decade over the last 40 years; but also from the rapidly expanding economic activities in the Pearl River Delta region much of which are handled in some ways in Hong Kong.
Our responses to meeting the development needs have to be largely framed within the span of about 1100 square kilometers of our own territory, a size compares very unfavourably with other big cities. Worst still, we can only develop on about 50% of our land mass as the remaining land is mainly Country Parks, which are 'no-go areas' for development.
How do planners in Hong Kong cope with these development challenges?
Many of you may be familiar with our high density developments, visually perhaps if not about the substance. Less people, however, know how planners in Hong Kong are planning the new towns. The purpose of this paper is, therefore, to give a brief introduction of the planning of our latest generation new towns which are now almost near completion.
I earlier mentioned that our population has been growing at the magnitude of about a million every decade. The growth had, in fact, accelerated in the nineties during which about 1.3 million people were added to the population. Today, we have a population of approximately 6.8 million. It is predicted that the population could increase to about 8.1 million in year 2011, and then to about 8.9 million in year 2016. (Annex 1)
Our Main Urban Areas, covering Hong Kong Island and Kowloon Peninsula, has a capacity for roughly 4 million population. There is a limit as to how much taller we can stack our developments; 'spreading out', in the form of new towns, is, therefore, not a matter of choice.