Early Experience of Land Readjustment in Hong Kong: Case Study of the Kowloon Walled City

Mark Hansley CHUA*, Yung YAU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Since the early 2010s, sub-divided flats have been proliferating in Hong Kong—one of the world’s most compact and expensive cities to live in. The growth of informal housing in the city has long been attributed to the shortage of housing supply. Apart from developing new land for housing, one possible approach to deal with the land supply constraint is to speed up the redevelopment of old buildings in the city centre in order to maximise the land use potential. Yet, this approach brings about many socio-economic issues that drive up the transaction costs for its implementation. To get around the hurdles of urban redevelopment, a land management technique called land readjustment (LR) has been recommended, but its use has never been institutionalised in the city. Using declassified archival documents and maps, this article argues that LR was already implemented—albeit informally—in Hong Kong during the 1960s–70s within the Kowloon Walled City. With the historical experience of the City of Darkness, the aim of this article is to shed light on the in situ resettlement of original site residents—very much at the heart of land readjustment—as a means to bring down the transaction costs of deep urban redevelopment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number757
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 2 Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

This article belongs to the Special Issue Housing as a Nexus of Unaffordability, Illegality and Livability

The authors would like to acknowledge Lawrence W.C. Lai of the University of Hong Kong for the archival materials used in this study.

Funding Information:
Funding: The article processing charge of this article was funded by the Research Seed Fund of Lingnan University (Grant No.: 102393).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the author. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


  • land readjustment
  • redevelopment
  • urban renewal
  • informal housing
  • informality
  • housing supply


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