Journals

Town Planning Review 89.5 Featured Article

The editors of Town Planning Review have selected ‘Mass Transit Railway, transit-oriented development and spatial justice: the competition for prime residential locations in Hong Kong since the 1980s‘ by Sylvia Y. He, Sui Tao, Yuting Hou and Wenhua Jiang as the Featured Article for the latest issue.

It will be free to access for a limited time here.

When asked to describe the paper, and highlight its importance, Sylvia Y. He, Sui Tao, Yuting Hou and Wenhua Jiang stated the following:

Mass Transit Railway, transit-oriented development and spatial justice: the competition for prime residential locations in Hong Kong since the 1980s

In our paper, we examine the issues of spatial justice and right to the city in a particular urban development model in Hong Kong, a city known for it public transport system – particularly the Mass Transit Railway (MTR).

During a visit to the City Gallery in Hong Kong, an officer in the Planning Department of Hong Kong proudly stated that a reasonable amount of land near the MTR has always been reserved for public housing estate development, which will likely to benefit the low-income groups. On the other hand, some local residents have been complaining that the prime land around MTR stations has become less and less affordable as they are increasingly developed by private developers. These two conflicting views from different stakeholders prompted us to wonder whether transit-oriented development (TOD) is as euphoric as it may sound. Hence we are intrigued to investigate three related questions in this essay:
– Are Hong Kong’s public housing estates located in less desirable locations in relation to the MTR network?
– What is the impact of MTR network on accessibility over time?
– Whether the locations of private and public housing estates have changed as a result of MTR network expansion?

The situation of housing market in Hong Kong offers an ideal laboratory to examine the residential location choice of two distinctive income groups. Like in many other cities, the public housing estates are mainly reserved for the low income groups. In contrast to many cities, about 47% of the population live in public housing in Hong Kong compared to 51% in private housing, making these two types of housing estates a representative analysis unit to trace the residential location of the low-income group and the non-low-income group.

Based on the findings, our study sheds some light on the current urban development practice in Hong Kong: the low-income group is facing the challenge of being priced out from the locations with easier access to public transport. This study can potentially serve as a reference for other cities that are or aim to become TOD cities.