New Towns and Infrastructure
New towns were a key concept promoted through the British planning system, reflecting the ideals of Ebenezer Howard and the Garden
Illustration 8.1 Public rental housing, Hong Kong. Hong Kong's long-standing public rental housing programme provides modest accommodation for more than a third of the population. A high priority is placed on the integration of community facilities and accessibility to transport and services.
(Image credit: Nicole Gurran 2014)
Cities/TCPA movement, and it is clear that they have played a significant role in Hong Kong. In order to break free of the topographical constraints on development in the urban core (Hong Kong Island and Kowloon), it was necessary to promote development, in parts, of the New Territories which had previously been inaccessible. The integrated, planned development of new towns with mixed tenure, good public transit connection and good public service facilities and open space provision, was seen as key to this and there are good examples of such developments, often on reclaimed land (for reasons discussed further).
Hong Kong has an impressive metro system and the concept of transit-oriented development is extensively applied. Furthermore, the transit authority (MTR) is enabled to utilise land value uplift to help finance its investments. Thus, significant land endowments have been given to MTR, which then acts as a master planning authority and developer for key station sites. However, several Hong Kong based academics interviewed for this chapter (2015) advised that the styles of development often resulting from this (e.g. high-rise ‘podium’-type schemes with shopping centres below and public or private (often gated) housing above) have been subject to some criticism (also see La Grange 2014).