Government must sort out the mess in New Territories villages

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 17 October, 2009, 12:00am

Once again, the government digs its head in the sand and refuses to address the real issue of New Territories village planning.

People are spending millions of dollars on their village homes in Sai Kung, only to have their views obstructed and their access blocked as the District Lands Office allocates more building permits to indigenous male villagers under the outdated New Territories 'small house policy'.

Often these villagers are allocated building permits having sold their land on to developers and/or are no longer in the country but just want to cash in on their so-called ancestral rights using relatives still in the villages.

These relatives are fast becoming a minority as they sell on their completed houses to outside Chinese and expatriates for large profits.

In the meantime, what is the government doing about it? In a word, nothing.

I recently had a meeting with the District Lands Office on a similar issue in my village, and while they listened to my complaints, understood the issues and were sympathetic, the office was powerless and its lack of co-ordination amazed me. I was advised by the office that I needed to address my specific complaints to the following channels:

Drainage (surface and foul) to the Drainage Services Department;

Roads in the village (we want the government to take over and be responsible for them) to the Lands Department;

Fire access and safety to the Fire Services Department;

Environmental issues and contamination to the Environmental Protection Department; and

Construction issues and podium height and design to the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

This is ludicrous for a modern government. The government should take proper control in the planning of villages before more New Territories villages become a haphazard jumble of worthless houses and environmental and planning disasters.

Tim Hallworth, Sai Kung