HONG KONG - Hong Kong property developer New World Development said on Thursday it would launch a research project to tackle a chronic housing shortage and sky-high home prices in one of the world's most expensive property markets.

The news comes as private home prices in the global financial hub hit a record high in July and as the government has stressed its commitment to a long-term pledge to make housing more affordable.

As part of the initiative, New World said a committee would study long-standing housing issues, ranging from unaffordable prices, longed waiting times for public housing and a lack of elderly-friendly homes as the population ages.

"Solving Hong Kong's deep-rooted housing issue is fundamental to the city's future growth," Adrian Cheng, chief executive of New World and chairman of the initiative, New World Build for Good, said in a statement.

"We are committed to working creatively with all parties in search of new solutions that will benefit more people."

Making housing more affordable has been a priority for all of Hong Kong's leaders since the former British colony returned to Chinese rule in 1997, although the prospect of owning a home is a distant dream for many.

This month, Reuters reported that Beijing had given a new mandate to the city's powerful tycoons in a series of meetings this year that they should pour resources and influence into helping solve the destabilising housing shortage. 

After the report, shares of Hong Kong's four major developers, CK Asset, Henderson Land Development, Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) and New World Development, dropped, with analysts citing market worries about potential regulation curbing their growth.

Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam later said that solving the former British colony's housing shortage and increasing land supply would be key priorities for the government.

Beijing has partly blamed the conglomerates' "monopolistic behaviour" for the city's housing woes, which it believes played a big role in stirring discontent with the government and fuelling pro-democracy protests in 2019.

(Reporting By Clare Jim and Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Robert Birsel) ((annemarie.roantree@thomsonreuters.com; +852 97387151; Reuters Messaging: annemarie.roantree.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net))