An empirical analysis of Hong Kong's planning control decisions for residential development

Ka hung Yu, Chi Man Hui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


In particular, the system's innate flexibilities give rise to questions as to whether the Town Planning Board's (TPB) planning control decisions are under the influence of 1) interests of large property developers; 2) government housing policy objectives; and 3) market conditions. In this light, this paper examines the TPB's decisions on applications for housing development in three residential statutory zones since January 1990: R(A) zone (i.e. a zone designated primarily for high-density residential development), R(B) zone (i.e. a zone established primarily for medium-density residential development), and R(C) zone (i.e. a zone intended primarily for low-density residential development). A total of 390 cases are studied. The findings show that the TPB's planning control decisions are subject to market conditions for R(A) zone, and skewed towards the interests of large property developers for R(C) zone. Yet, the decisions for all three zones are not in line with the government's housing policy objectives. Besides, the TPB, while being more receptive towards more intensified residential developments in R(B) zone, is usually against them in R(C) zone. Also found for R(C) zone is that, the TPB is more likely to approve development in urban areas and in new towns, and that it has taken a more pro-development stance since Hong Kong's handover to China. Interestingly, in this zone, while requests for higher site coverage are treated more favourably, the same cannot be said about requests for higher allowable plot ratio or the relaxation of building heights. Policy implications are then discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-102
Number of pages14
JournalHabitat International
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2017


  • Hong Kong
  • Land-use zoning
  • Planning control decisions
  • Residential development

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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