The Small House Policy (SHP) was introduced by the former Hong Kong Government in 1972 and has NO EXPIRY DATE. Its original objective was to improve the prevailing low standard of living in the rural areas of the New Territories (NT). It is an ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY designed to simplify the basic right of any indigenous MALE NT villager (wherever born) reaching the age of 18 to build a house FOR HIMSELF TO OCCUPY in his ancestral village. The policy is out of control and is now the cause of widespread abuse and illegality.
The Government has stated that no more government land will be provided for NT small houses and when the unused village land runs out, that will be that. However, there is now such unprecedented pressure by villagers and developers (to whom many of the former have already surreptitiously sold their land) that the villages are crammed with wall to wall housing without planned access roads, sewage, drainage or public amenities.
More importantly, there are schemes afoot to fill the village enclaves inside HK’s Country Parks with large, incompatible developments with no regard for the environment or the interests of the general public for whom the parks are an extremely popular amenity. Moreover, the construction of these houses (hardly any of which will be occupied by the so-called village applicants, as many are born and resident overseas) will cause massive environmental damage and ruin the enjoyment of Country Parks by genuine residents and visitors alike.
It is estimated that the Government’s failure to reform the policy could lead over time to more than 10,000 additional small houses being built in Country Park enclaves over the next 10 or so years. Small houses are the most environmentally damaging form of development in Hong Kong because the reality is that they are virtually unregulated. Construction (including the building of illegal or “temporary” roads) causes both habitat loss for wildlife and excessive runoff into streams and the sea which is very damaging.
The same is true of the permanent infrastructure (e.g. road access and parking) required to service new houses, again virtually unregulated and haphazard. Sewage disposal (normally involving septic tanks) is virtually unregulated; grey water drainage generally goes into the nearest watercourse or the sea and worse (in the case of Hoi Ha) into the waters of a Marine Park.
During your election campaign at a Hong Kong University forum on 9 December 2012, you said: “something will have to be done about the Small House Policy”. Unfortunately, nothing has been done.