Home ownership plan for Mai Po flats project

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 June, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 June, 2012, 12:00am


A developer has taken the unusual step of suggesting that up to 624 apartments in a residential project it is planning to build in a wildlife-rich wetland be sold as home-ownership scheme flats.

Under a proposal for the site, near Mai Po in the New Territories, Nam Sang Wai Development Co is planning to discuss with the government the idea of selling the apartments to those qualified under the scheme.

Wan Man-yee, the development consultant behind the plan, pointed to insufficient affordable housing in the city as one reason for the idea.

If the government agrees, Wan said, the developer would sell the flats to government-appointed nominees who would be HOS-qualified buyers.

'We want a more diverse group of people to be able to enjoy the surrounding environment,' Wan said. 'We don't want to just be serving the wealthy. Mr Lee and Mr Fu both agreed with the vision, so we decided to do it.'

Wan was referring to Henderson Land tycoon Lee Shau-kee and KHI Holdings Group chief executive Adrian Fu. The companies own Nam Sang Wai Development, with KHI acting as project manager.

The site comprises 180 hectares straddling Lut Chau and Nam Sang Wai, which is home to rich flora and fauna and attracts birdwatchers.

Nature activists have urged the developer to scale back its plans or even exchange the land for another site to avoid endangering wildlife.

The flats will be in six blocks. Also in the plan are 972 units in three-storey blocks built on stilts.

In an effort to increase the plan's social value, the developer is also proposing the construction of a day-care centre and a residential-care home for the elderly, as well as a care home for mentally disabled adults.

The Nam Sang Wai company plans to submit its development application to the Town Planning Board next month, and its environmental impact assessment in September.

Reed beds will be planted in Lut Chau and elsewhere to provide a habitat for birds, and eucalyptus trees will be grown to replace ageing ones where cormorants sleep.

Mike Kilburn, vice-chairman of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society, said that while the new plan was better than previous ones, it was wrong in principle to develop the area. 'A loss of 25 hectares is not good any way you cut it. The correct approach would be a non-in-situ land exchange so the entire area can be protected,' he said.