Rural blight and land use planning in Hong Kong

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Despite the rapid urbanization of Hong Kong over the last few decades, until the late 1960s a serene countryside, contrasting with the bustling city close at hand, was left by default. Whereas many of the extra-urban hills have been designated as country parks, which guards them against development, the farmland and villages in the lowland have been intruded upon increasingly by non-conforming uses. The new-town programme initiated in the 1970s accelerated the rural degradation. Agricultural decline and urban-generated forces such as city expansion, land-value appreciation, port development, suburbanization and China trade provided the impetus. Urban-oriented activities, in particular open storage and port back-up, informal factories and village houses, began to encroach indiscriminately. A landmark court judgement in 1983 allowing such uses of farmland initiated a rampant spread and rural blight. The small rural realm has telescoped and accentuated the degradation. The policy of minimum interference in indigenous villagers' affairs accounted partly for the slow response. Belated statutory measures, introduced in 1991, ushered modern planning into the rural areas for the first time. The long-term policy aims at containing the proliferation, discontinuing uses at sensitive locations and opening sites and facilities for orderly accommodation of an inevitable urban overspill. Copyright © 1997 Chapman & Hall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269-281
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 1997


Jim, C. Y. (1997). Rural blight and land use planning in Hong Kong. Environmentalist, 17(4), 269–281. doi: 10.1023/A:1018549327484


  • Rapid urbanization
  • Economic geology
  • Urban overspill
  • Sensitive location
  • Open storage


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