Hong Kong’s leader, Carrie Lam, believes that reclamation is a path that a lot of developing cities will have to turn to in the near future. Cities like Hong Kong are forced to deal with severe overcrowding and a resultant shortage of homes. According to the think-tank, Our Hong Kong Foundation, around 62 percent of Hong Kong land is tied up by law and regulatory restrictions for environmental purposes regarding land development.
“It is crucial that we look for a new source of land supply by building new towns with newly created lands,” says the think-tank’s Deputy Executive Director, Stephen Wong.
The city is going forward with the idea to construct one of the world’s biggest man-made islands. Project Lantau Tomorrow Vision will have an expense of over HK$624 billion (US$79.7 billion) and will require reclamation of 1,700 hectares of land in the sea that will house approximately 1.1 million residents on artificial islands. The work is set to start in 2025 with the expectation that the first inhabitants will be able to move in by 2032.
The first stage of the project involves establishing 1,000 hectares of land surrounding the Kau Yi Chau island in the waterway east of Lantau. An additional 700 hectares will come in the second stage. Once finished, the artificial islands will support around 400,00 homes; 70 percent will be public houses, and 30 percent will be the private sector. The reclaimed land will also contain Hong Kong’s third CBD as well as a cross-sea transport network.
In the world’s most unaffordable property market, Hong Kong’s population has risen to a massive 27,400 people per square kilometer (roughly 70,900 persons per square mile). Over 200,000 people reside in sub-divided flats in Hong Kong, such as the 20 square foot “coffin homes”. The average wait for a house in the public sector has increased to five and a half years. In the five years leading up to 2017, the collective shortfall of the city’s public and private housing availability reached 99,000 units.