A government adviser said on Sunday that authorities had no plans to increase the size of subsidised public housing flats, despite criticism that they were no better than so-called nano homes.
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Stanley Wong Yuen-fai, chairman of the Housing Authority’s subsidised housing committee, said it was important to maintain the “compatibility” of the latest batch of government-subsidised flats on sale, so they could be rented out if necessary in future.
But critics had accused the government of putting forward public housing so small that residents’ quality of life would suffer.
The two projects in question – in Chai Wan and Tsing Yi – under the Green Form Subsidised Home Owner Scheme (GSH) would together provide 3,696 flats, some as small as 152 sq ft. A nano flat is generally considered to be a unit of less than 200 sq ft, or similar to a car park space.
Wong said the new GSH flats were originally built as rentals, so their layout would be in line with other such housing. He said it was unlikely the government would build bigger subsidised flats in future, even if a piece of land were assigned specifically for flats sold under the GSH scheme.
“It is better for public housing resources to be compatible,” Wong told TVB’s On the Record on Sunday.
“So when the demand ceases, these flats originally slated for the GSH can be used for [public rental] purpose.”
Subsidised homes often divert land from public rental housing. Wong said the number of GSH flats introduced each year should not be more than a fifth of the public rental units available for allocation, to lower the impact on waiting times for rentals.
Families have been waiting an average of about 5½ years for public housing.
Wong also had to fend off criticism of his recent work as chairman of the government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply.
Henry Tang Ying-yen, a former chief secretary, said the task force’s recent five-month public consultation was nothing but a way for the government to “shirk responsibility”.
Tang, who sits on the standing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, said previous administrations had a position on issues before listening to public opinion. He said past governments would not have drawn conclusions by relying on residents’ choices, in a process he likened to ticking the order sheet at a restaurant.
Wong defended the report which his panel drafted, and which the government has since endorsed. He said it was a result of wide-ranging consultations.
The report – which came up with eight recommendations, including taking back part of the Fanling golf course to build homes – has drawn criticism from the business sector.
Wong said Tang’s remarks were regrettable. He added that the task force would have been willing to listen to Tang had he raised suggestions before the public consultation.