The northern part of Hong Kong is expected to be developed into a metropolitan area ideal for people to live, work and travel, Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam said when delivering her 2021 policy address at a Legislative Council meeting Wednesday.
She outlined concrete plans to address deep-seated problems such as the housing shortage and to better integrate into the national development in the policy address, the fifth of its kind since Lam took office in 2017.
With an area of 300 square kilometers, the proposed Northern Metropolis covers from the west to the east of the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Boundary Control Points Economic Belt, as well as the deeper hinterlands.
Given full development of the entire Northern Metropolis, a total of 905,000 to 926,000 residential units, including the existing 390,000 residential units in Yuen Long District and North District, will be available to accommodate a population of about 2.5 million.
The total number of jobs in the metropolis will increase substantially from 116,000 at present to 650,000, including 150,000 innovation and technology industry-related jobs, Lam said.
Five new railways will drive the development of the Northern Metropolis, according to her.
It will include the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Railway linking the Hung Shui Kiu and Ha Tsuen areas to Qianhai in Shenzhen.
"This is a cross-border railway and there will be a new border control point," Lam said. "I hope the co-location arrangement can be used at the new border. We have reserved a few hectares at the new Hung Shui Kiu station to turn it into a cross-border station."
The planned Northern Link will be extended north to connect to the new Huanggang Checkpoint in Shenzhen via the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop, Lam said.
"There is also a spare area at the new Huanggang Checkpoint in Shenzhen that can be connected to the railway," she said.
Authorities will explore the extension of the East Rail Line to Luohu in Shenzhen, and the provision of a co-location arrangement at the boundary control point on the Shenzhen side.
"The terminal of the East Rail Line is Lo Wu station, which is also a border checkpoint," Lam said. "We have talked to [MTR Corp.] and Shenzhen authorities to extend the line across the Shenzhen River to a station in Shenzhen's Luohu District and travelers can pass the border there under the co-location arrangement."
The initial routes of the five new railways have been designed, she said, "but I have to stress that the routes are just our initial thoughts and they will still need to be explored and studied by MTRC."
The chief executive also said Hong Kong will explore with the mainland the formation of a one-stop sandbox network to facilitate financial institutions and information and technology companies from Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao to test cross-boundary fintech applications.