Land Supply and Land-use Planning of Public Open Space in Hong Kong

Department: Urban Planning and Design
Research Centre: Centre of Urban Studies and Urban Planning
Active Dates: 30 June 2010 - 31 December 2013

Title of project: Land Supply and Land-use Planning of Public Open Space in Hong Kong

 Project team: Prof. Bo-sin Tang (PI); Dr. Darren Cheung (PhD graduate)

 Project funder: Research Grants Council, Hong Kong SAR Government


This study examines the role and rationale of urban planning in the supply and distribution of open space in Hong Kong. Quantitative analyses of 1,177 “Open Space” zones in the statutory town plans have identified three clusters of open space around high-rise residential, low-density housing and mixed commercial-business areas, respectively. Huge inconsistency exists in the planning and implementation of open space projects. Evaluation of 1,737 public pleasure grounds and recreation facilities reveals that less than half of them were actually zoned as “Open Space” on statutory town plans. Through a historical review of urban development of this city, the study elucidates how open space planning has been influenced by factors related to colonial politics, racial harmony, public hygiene and democratization. Recreation has not been the sole purpose of the authority in providing public open space. The recent trend of expanding new open space network in strategic waterfront locations and near commercial zones, for place marketing and urban competitiveness, may aggravate the disproportionate distribution of open space, encourage its commodification and deprive the right of access to the underprivileged community.

Outcomes and outputs

  • 1 PhD trained.
  • 2 invited public speeches.
  • 5 journal papers.


Outputs already published or publicly disseminated:

Tang, B.S. (2016). Soul of the city: open space and public interest. Professional Seminar on Future Public Open Space in Hong Kong: Planning, Design and Management. CUSUP/HKU and Planning Department of the HKSAR Government, City Gallery, Central, Hong Kong, 30 January 2016.

Cheung, D.M.W. and Tang, B.S. (2015).  Recreation space and urban land reserve? Land use zoning pattern and transformation of open space in Hong Kong. ASCE Journal of Urban Planning and Development. (Accepted for publication)

Tang, B.S. (2014). Private city and open space. The Second Hong Kong Public Space Symposium – Housing Our Public Space. Hong Kong Public Space Initiative, The City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, 28 June 2014.

Cheung, D.M.W. and Tang, B.S. (2015). Social order, leisure, or tourist attraction? The changing planning missions for waterfront space in Hong Kong. Habitat International. 47, 231-240.

Tang, B.S. and Cheung, D.M.W. (2013). From fragmented open space to networked open space. The 12th International Congress of Asian Planning Schools Association, The National Taiwan University, Taipei, 1-3 November 2013.

Cheung D.M.W. and Tang, B.S.  (2013). Space and power: land-use planning of public open space in Hong Kong. AESOP 2013 PhD Workshop, AESOP, AESOP Young Academics Network and University College Dublin, Belfast, Northern Ireland, 10-13 July 2013.

Cheung, D.M.W. (2012). From privately managed public open space to private open space: A case study of a private residential complex in Hong Kong, Pacific News, 37, 10-14.

Tang, B.S. (2011). Open space and urban development, 2011 Association of American Geographers (AAG) Annual Conference, AAG, Seattle, USA, 16 April 2011.

Tang, B.S. and Wong, S.W. (2008). A longitudinal study of open space zoning and development in Hong Kong. Landscape and Urban Planning. 87 (4), 258-268.


Enlarge Photo: Land Supply and Land-use Planning of Public Open Space in Hong Kong 1