Henderson Land increases farmland donation as tycoons step up to help government ease housing crisis

By Peggy Sito peggy.sito@scmp.com / https://www.scmp.com/business/article/3035849/henderson-land-increases-farmland-donation-tycoons-step-help-government?utm_medium=partner&utm_campaign=contentexchange&utm_source=EdgeProp | November 5, 2019 11:01 AM SGT
Henderson Land Development, Hong Kong's third-largest property company with a market capitalisation of HK$189.9 billion (US$24.2 billion), will loan 430,000 sq ft of farmland to the city's government for seven years for the development of 2,000 transitional housing units, according to a source familiar with the matter.
The donation of land in Yuen Long in the New Territories more than quadruples the company's commitment of 100,000 sq ft announced this month as Hong Kong steps up efforts to ease its housing crisis, and will amount to the largest such pledge by a private landowner. Henderson Land will announce its intention during a symposium on transitional housing organised by the city's government on Saturday. The donation is subject to the government accepting its offer.
"The donation shows the company's support for the government as it seeks to ease the housing crisis," said the source who asked not to be named.
In September, the company said it would not contest any resumption of farmland by the government, after the Lands Department announced plans to take back 784 plots of private farmland covering 7.3 million sq ft in the northern New Territories, on which 21,000 new homes will be built in the first phase. Henderson said it owned 1 million sq ft, or 14 per cent, of the land to be taken back by the government.
Transitional housing is short-term accommodation provided to help vulnerable individuals or households awaiting longer-term housing. In Hong Kong, such housing involves the strategic use of vacant property, or idle sites not ready for long-term housing estates. According to the government's estimates, Hong Kong will have about 1,250 units of transitional housing, including existing units and those to be built, by next year.
According to the latest government figures, as of June this year, there were altogether 256,100 applications for public rental housing accommodation, while the average waiting time for flat allocation had risen to more than five years.
Henderson Land has Hong Kong's largest holding of farmland, which amounted to 45 million sq ft at the end of last year, according to a report published by...