Developer's plans threaten unique Hakka-style village in country park

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 18 March, 2012, 12:00am


Some correspondents have written to these columns raising concerns about the destruction of our country parks by developers.

Pak Sha O village is, to quote the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department website for Sai Kung Country Park West, 'the best preserved old village in the park'.

The village is entirely in the old Hakka style with a walled farm at the centre and workers' cottages around it and has been well preserved by its residents.

No new building has taken place since 1965. The village lies on a popular walking path through the country park and every day you see people taking photographs.

Many school groups have visited to see what village life used to be like.

It is an example to the young people from the youth hostel, the Scouts who camp at the church and the urban dwellers who pass through on weekend hikes.

Pak Sha O is so special that there has been an exhibit at the Hong Kong Heritage Museum showcasing Pak Sha O as a model New Territories village.

But the fact that it is a unique piece of Hong Kong and its people's heritage has not prevented a developer from applying for permission from the district lands office, Tai Po, to build two modern Spanish villa-type constructions in the village. Not only will this totally destroy the village's unique heritage value, but I fear that it will be the start of more construction work and a part of Hong Kong's past will be lost forever.

Incredibly there are empty houses in the village (one of which is owned by the developer) as the demand to live in a place 10 minutes' walk from the nearest road is very limited. There can be no justification from a population pressure or demand perspective for construction of further buildings at the cost of Hong Kong's heritage.

Given the distance from the road, construction work will either require a temporary road, at great cost to the environment, flora and fauna, or, manually carrying construction material with a limited prospect of the removal of construction waste by hand. This will lead to further damage to country park's ecology.

Run-off waste will enter Pak Sha O river which runs into the Hoi Ha marine park with further implications for the environment.

Tim Kay, Pak Sha O