Reject kuk's call for country park enclaves compensation
The war cry by the Heung Yee Kuk for more compensation for conservation of country park enclaves must be shot down at once. The zonal compensation for resumption of agricultural land is sufficient and there is no need to compensate potential development value. Once we do that, where does it stop?
The administration's failure to cover the New Territories with restrictive zoning is not as the Ombudsman claims a failure of the Planning Department, but that of its masters who tremble in front of the kuk.
Worse, the department continues to create new development rights by processing applications for land grants in the enclaves under the small house policy, while the department and the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department try to implement the 'enclave conservation policy' announced after the Sai Wan incident. This dichotomy fires up the kuk to gather supporters around the world to approach Chinese embassies in Europe and elsewhere.
Compensation (in case property development rights are depreciated) and betterment (payment in case of measures improving development potential) have been studied and a detailed report was produced in 1992 as part of the Comprehensive Review of the Town Planning Ordinance.
The conclusion was simple. The ability of the Hong Kong community to undertake good planning and change land use must at all times remain affordable for the community. Any increase in compensation or charging for betterment must not be taken lightly. Otherwise we can forget good planning entirely in Hong Kong and witness the city being in permanent gridlock due to overdevelopment in urban areas, and losing its phenomenal green outdoors to the cancer of village house development. Giving in to the kuk will see Hong Kong lose the opportunity to be like both New York and Hawaii.
The kuk's misplaced sense of entitlement to unrestricted development on agricultural lots has been provoked by the soft glove treatment it has received. But today there is no more room for this nonsense. Owners of property not only have rights, they also have responsibilities to the community as a whole. The right to your property 'as is' is protected by law, and compensation is there in case of resumption. Changes in potential development rights decided on for the benefit of the community do not require compensation.
Paul Zimmerman, CEO, Designing Hong Kong