New town set to be a cut above 'City of Sadness'

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 January, 2011, 12:00am

The proposed Hung Shui Kiu new town will be less densely populated and have fewer public housing estates than its embattled neighbour Tin Shui Wai, dubbed the 'City of Sadness'.

The government said yesterday that it would spend more than HK$70 million on a study into the development of the area between Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai, long identified as the location of a new town.

'The building density in Tin Shui Wai is too high, and there are too many public estates,' a spokesman for the Planning Department said, adding that the new town would be better planned and provide a higher quality living environment.

The spokesman said the plot ratio in the new town centre would be about 5.0, markedly lower than the ratio of more than 6.5 in existing new towns such as Tin Shui Wai and Tseung Kwan O.

Plot ratio defines the total floor area of buildings permitted on a site. It is calculated by dividing the net floor area of all buildings on the site by the net site area

Private sector housing would make up about 60 per cent of housing in the new town. In Tin Shui Wai, more than 60 per cent of housing is public.

The spokesman said Hong Kong was in urgent need of new towns in order to increase the supply of housing and prevent property prices from continuing to climb.

'The need to develop new towns is pressing. We have to address the long-term housing demand and create jobs,' he said.

The 790-hectare site will provide homes for about 160,000 people, along with local shops and community facilities. New business and industrial developments will create 48,000 jobs.

The new town could be used to develop 'special industries', such as hi-tech production, logistics and high-value-added manufacturing, given its proximity to Shenzhen and the Qianhai development, the spokesman said.

The State Council has designated Qianhai as a 'Hong Kong-Shenzhen modern service industries co-operation zone'.

The department plans to seek funding from the Legislative Council in the second quarter of this year and begin the three-year study in August.

The study will assess land use and its impact on the environment, cultural heritage, traffic, infrastructure engineering, ventilation, landscape and urban design, and will eventually bring forward proposals on how the site should be used, the spokesman added. It will also look at the feasibility of a new MTR station between Tin Shui Wai and Siu Hong.

Depending on the results of the survey, construction work will begin in 2019 and the new town will welcome its first citizens by 2023.

More than 60 per cent of the land at the site of the proposed town is privately owned, and about 25,000 people live there. About 30 per cent of the land is used as open storage, 20 per cent is in residential use and 13 per cent is agricultural land.

There are 25 villages in the proposed development site, of which 19 are inhabited by indigenous villagers.

The spokesman said the department hoped the new town would not affect indigenous villagers and said it would try to minimise the impact on squatters. But he conceded that 'land acquisitions and demolitions would be inevitable'.

Hung Shui Kiu was first identified as suitable for new development in 2000, but the plan was shelved because of slow population growth.

But Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in his 2007 policy address that the new town would be one of 10 major infrastructure projects designed to promote economic growth.

Home comforts

The majority of homes in the new town would be privately owned

In Tin Shui Wai, dubbed the 'City of Sadness,' the proportion of homes in public ownership is more than: 60%