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Hong Kong's Henderson to lend brownfield land to government for housing

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HONGKONG (Reuters) – Hong Kong property developer Henderson Land Development <0012.HK> said on Saturday it will lend 428,000 square feet of brownfield land in the city’s suburbs to the government for seven years to build 2,000 transitional housing units.

The move comes after the Hong Kong and Chinese governments asked developers to contribute back to the community, in an attempt to tackle a housing shortage in Hong Kong, where millions of anti-government protesters have taken to the streets for months.

The 428,000 square feet of land to be lent in Hong Kong’s New Territories represents 1% of the total farmland Henderson owns, which was estimated to be 45 million square feet at the end of last year, the most among Hong Kong developers, according to a report published by Bank of America Merrill Lynch. But some researchers said the actual quantum of land owned could be larger.

The government said separately it is planning to pay HK$1 as rent to Henderson Land, according to local media.

Another major property developer, New World Development Co Ltd <0017.HK>, said in September it would donate 3 million square feet of its farmland reserves for social housing, while the city’s richest man Li Ka-shing said a week later he would donate HK$1 billion ($128 million) to support local small and medium sized businesses.

In one of the boldest housing policies in recent years, Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam vowed in her policy address in mid-October to take back about 700 hectares of land in the New Territories from developers into public use under what is known as a land resumption ordinance.

The government has also said it aimed to provide 10,000 transitional housing units in the next three years.

(Reporting by Clare Jim; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman)

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