Minimum government assistance : planning cottage resettlement areas in post-war Hong Kong

Carmen C. M. TSUI*

*Corresponding author for this work

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


After the Second World War, large squatter areas flourished everywhere, threatening Hong Kong’s safety and sanitation. In 1948, the government took action and required squatters to move to designated resettlement areas where they would be less of a public nuisance. There, evicted squatters could build simple cottages or huts at their own expense. Most cottage resettlement areas were located on steep hillsides unsuitable for permanent development. Interestingly, the cottage resettlement areas were initially portrayed by the government as a solution to the squatter problem, but they have since been deemed a wasteful use of prime urban land. What made the government change its attitude towards the cottage resettlement areas? This study challenges the common narrative that often describes cottage resettlement as a failed squatter resettlement strategy that was quickly replaced by a massive programme to construct multi-storey resettlement estates. It demonstrates the way cottage resettlement was used as one of the means of resettlement alongside the direct government construction of resettlement housing. Further, it shows how the self-built nature of the cottage resettlement areas was preferred by a government that maintained a principal policy of offering only minimal assistance and public funding to squatter resettlement.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1257-1280
Number of pages24
JournalPlanning Perspectives
Issue number6
Early online date15 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.


  • Squatter resettlement
  • site-and-services approach
  • cottage areas
  • self-built housing
  • philanthropic housing


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