Residents fight to save valley
Cheung Chi-fai and Olga Wong
Battles against development are common in Sai Kung - Hong Kong's backyard - and residents are increasingly scrutinising projects.
The latest dispute centres on a proposed residential development at Hang Hau Wing Lung Road in Clear Water Bay that residents fear would spoil a small conservation zone.
The developer, Sea Treasure, wants to build six low-rise blocks on a concrete platform over a swamp and streams in a valley near the road. The blocks are expected to house 18 to 20 people.
Sea Treasure has applied to the Town Planning Board to rezone the land from conservation area to residential use. The deadline for objections is Friday.
A group of local residents are now mobilising objections to the project and plan to present their views to the board later. One of the opponents has claimed that the project could harm the unspoiled valley and its wildlife.
The woman also linked the project to a recent High Court ruling in which the Clear Water Bay zoning plan was challenged.
She said that together they could be seen as an organised attempt to destroy the natural character of Sai Kung.
Last week, the High Court directed the Town Planning Board to reconsider a decision blocking development at Clear Water Bay.
The judge said the board had made 'material factual errors' in declaring three of four sites near the University of Science and Technology as conservation areas.
'My feeling and worries are that somebody has the whole place in mind [for development],' the woman said.
She claims to have seen trees felled in Wing Lung Road. The Planning Department confirmed it had issued a warning to the landowner over the issue.
Chan Kim-on, of Vision Planning Consultants for the developer, said he opposed development on conservation sites but believed this project could bring ecological gains.
'We have to keep an open mind. This project will achieve a win-win situation,' Mr Chan said.
The developer planned to surrender another piece of land to the government for nature conservation without asking for extra land, he added.
Process for zoning conservation areas
The Planning Department draws up a Development Permission Area Plan for the government to protect conservation areas
Based on the DPAP, the Planning Department drafts an Outline Zoning Plan
The public is invited to comment on the plan in the following two months
The Town Planning Board can amend or maintain the plan after hearing public comment. The final plan is then open for public comment for three weeks
The plan is submitted to the chief executive in council for approval if there are no further objections
Conservation site owners can appeal against the decision through a judicial review
Source: Planning Department