I&T, Housing, and Hong Kong Budget 2022
Prof. Christine LOH, Chief Development Strategist, Institute for the Environment, HKUST
The Financial Secretary’s 2022 Budget looked at the Northern Metropolis (NM) development from a land supply perspective that would provide housing, and for innovation and technology (I&T).
Housing & Infrastructure
For housing, land formation is envisaged to be formulated within 2-3 years and new for NDAs (new development areas) to be sorted out. The Financial Secretary set aside HK$100 billion to expedite infrastructure works relating to land formation, housing, and transportation within the NM. Beyond public sector funding for such works, the private sector would need to invest in new and re-development too. Innovative Modular Integrated Construction (MiC) approach, for example, reduce the embodied carbon emissions of construction projects. The shortened construction process and time help optimize the use of resources, manpower and cost. The government will increase the concession of floor area from 6 to 10 percent to encourage the adoption. A prefabrication factory could be set at the proposed Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP) in NM, where the manufactured MiC can be transported to site direct for installation. How successful the NM project will be will depend on the government’s planning and zoning process, the granting of building approvals, setting of land premium, plot ratio allowance, incentives to create green buildings, as well as encouraging low carbon and nature-based solutions. Only with the right policies in place could the NM reach its potential to be an exceptional development.
For I&T, the government’s view is for the NM to be like the ‘Silicon Valley’ of the Greater Bay Area (GBA). The HKSAR Government has been providing funds in the billions in recent years for R&D, start-ups, as well as venture funding. The 2022 Budget injected even more money for I&T. This is part of a larger vision in the national 14th Five Year Plan (2021-25) for regional GBA integration, and positioning Hong Kong as an international I&T-finance-and-logistics hub, which involves significant collaboration between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
Within the overall I&T vision, the NM plan conceives of hi-tech sub-clusters:
- The eastern side that includes Sai Kung Country Park and Mirs Bay on the Hong Kong side and Dapeng on the Shenzhen side, is slated for green tech, as well as developing nature conservation and recreation.
- The Lok Ma Chau/San Tin area in the middle is slated for developing the 240 hectares “Technopole” to stimulate technology transfer – which requires proof of concept and prototyping – with a focus on Artificial Intelligence, Big Data, chemistry, biomedicine, and other health and life disciplines.
- The western side in Hung Shui Kiu, which borders Shenzhen’s Qianhai, will have a digital I&T focus.
- The HSITP in the Lok Ma Chau Loop and Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Zone under construction, adjoining the Shenzhen River, can provide near 390 hectares of land for I&T.
The vision requires significant talent. People at universities, in R&D and technology development are excited. We include interviews to show the potentials.