Land law and town planning in Hong Kong: study of the relationship between these two areas

Student thesis: Doctoral thesis


Hong Kong is a very capitalist region (the most capitalist place in the world), a place where change is constant. However, things are never that simple, unfortunately (or luckily, as otherwise we would have no topic of study for our thesis). When we talk about the topics that we are going to study in our thesis (Land Law and Town Planning), the situation becomes much more complicated. According to Roger Nissim, "Hong Kong [has] a unique position of being internationally acclaimed as one of the best, if not the very best example of a functioning capitalist economy which ironically is founded on what is fundamentally a socialist land tenure system" (Nissim, 2012: preface). We will explain in this thesis how Hong Kong is made of apparent contradictions; Hong Kong is a mixture of situations that, in other places, would be seen as completely contradictory, but, when applied to Hong Kong, those apparent contradictions normally mix together into a not perfect but at least quite complete system. Hong Kong’s population tripled from 1950 to 2001, from 2.2 million to 6.7 million, to reach the the current total population 7.298.600 inhabitants in 2015, according to the data from the Government of Hong Kong. The reader could easily think that this fast increase in Hong Kong’s population is the reason why Hong Kong adopted this “socialist-like” land tenure system to which we referred. However, this is not the case. Obviously, this substantial increase of Hong Kong’s population played a major role in shaping what Hong Kong is nowadays (through, for example, the creation of the Public Housing System), but the truth is that the system of landholding in Hong Kong is much older than Hong Kong’s demographic boom, as it is a variation of the system introduced by the British when they arrived in Hong Kong in 1841 and they sold the first plots of land. In this thesis, we will give an overview of how Land Law and Town Planning work in Hong Kong, in order to study what are the interrelationships between Land Law and Town Planning Law in Hong Kong when it comes to the town planning process and the control of land (mainly regarding land uses); the reasons why land values in Hong Kong are so persistently high and, at last, we will focus on Urbanism in order to study the debate between compact cities and urban sprawl in order to analyze whether the system of Hong Kong (extremely compact region) is as ideal as to be followed in Spain or not. As this is a thesis written and deposited in Spain, the reference to Spain and Spanish law is compulsory for us. This is why one of the chapters of the thesis is devoted to the comparison of some aspects of Land Law and Urbanism in Hong Kong and Spain.
Date of Award17 Oct 2017
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorJoan Amenos Alamo (Director) & Roser Martinez Quirante (Tutor)


  • Land lax
  • Town planning law
  • Urbanism

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