Is the development control legal framework conducive to a sustainable dense urban development in Hong Kong?

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79 Citations (Scopus)


Like many Western countries, Hong Kong as a densely populated modern city is moving towards the goal of urban sustainability. However, the implementation mechanisms towards achieving such a goal are indeed a complex and often contentious process. Increasing demands have been made by the public in requesting developers to minimise the impact of property development on the environment. These global concerns can be much more difficult to implement in a city like Hong Kong that has a high concentration of urban population, constant pressure upon infrastructures and a limited supply of land resources. This paper argues that much of the rationale behind the prevailing development control laws today is not conducive to meeting with the requirements of "sustainability". A research was carried out to identify the obstacles in the area of planning and building laws that hinder the implementation of sustainable dense urban development. The research is backed with a review on the criteria anticipated by the Hong Kong government for sustainable development and an appraisal of the development control legal framework in Hong Kong to find any defects in the existing system. Following a questionnaire survey, a series of in-depth interviews was also conducted to explore the possibility of improvements. The correlation of several major issues is also identified. Recommendations are presented in this paper with the aim to minimise the barriers created by the current development control legal framework towards the goal of a sustainable dense urban development.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)409-426
Number of pages18
JournalHabitat International
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2004


  • Building
  • Hong Kong
  • Planning law
  • Sustainable development
  • Urban planning

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Urban Studies


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