Colonial History, Indigenous Villagers’ Rights, and Rural Land Use: An Empirical Study of Planning Control Decisions on Small House Applications in Hong Kong

Ka hung Yu, Chi Man Hui

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


The New Territories Small House Policy in Hong Kong has been controversial, in that the interests of male indigenous villagers in terms of housing are prioritized at the expense of the rest of the population. This colonial-era policy, currently under the protection of the Basic Law, has profound implications on how rural land outside the village environs should be used, particularly so when development pressures are mounting. How planning control decisions on small house applications are made under these conditions, thus, becomes an important and timely policy research topic. This paper, thus, studies these decisions in Greenbelt zone (GB), Agriculture zone (AGR), and Unspecified zone (UNSP), between January 1st, 1990 and June 30th, 2017, using non-aggregate planning statistics. The findings show that the Town Planning Board (TPB) is more likely to reject small house applications that propose a larger site area for each small house in AGR and GB zones, but not those that essentially propose a small-scale small house development (i.e. up to 5 houses). Also, land-use policies in these three zones are found to vary geographically. Further, the TPB's decisions are flexible in that they are subject to other exogenous factors, such as housing policies and housing market conditions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-353
Number of pages13
JournalLand Use Policy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2018


  • Hong Kong
  • Indigenous villagers
  • Land-use zoning
  • Planning control decisions
  • Rural land
  • Small House Policy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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