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  • Oct 21, 2014
  • Updated: 6:18pm
Jake's View
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 3:05am

Here's some concrete ideas to spare parks

You can get the mixers ready and pour it over Kwai Chung port to start with, and we'll get those new flats while keeping kuk and friends at bay

The man named as the new chief of the Country and Marine Parks Board just as a debate on development in the parks erupted has vowed to be "impartial and fair".

Former commissioner of police Tang King-shing ... added: "It is very important that we strike a balance among various parties."

SCMP, September 11

Here is the scenario. On the one hand, we have a burglar who wants to break into a home, and on the other, we have the homeowner, who would rather the burglar be kept out.

How did you strike the balance between these two parties in your police career, Mr Tang?

But I don't expect better thinking from our chief executive in protecting the country parks. One of his election pledges was that they "should be protected from development as far as possible".

Next target: Disneyland. That’s 27.5 hectares – we can get a further 54,000 flats

You notice the weasel words. They were the same ones used for the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance and on that occasion were subjected within months to convenient interpretation. The process of turning our jewel of a harbour into the Kowloon Ditch then continued unhindered. Nor does it surprise me that Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat is in favour of slathering concrete throughout the country parks. Go for a drive west from Shek Kong through the New Territories, a district that is effectively kuk-administered, and you'll be astounded what a rubbish tip the kuk has made of the place. It's truly awful. They were getting in practice for the country parks.

Brother Lau was asked, however, whether village land in the New Territories should also be used for development and indignantly rejected the suggestion: "The government has plenty of land."

Excuse me, Sir, but wasn't the government's rationale for chipping away at the country parks that it did not have enough land for the 470,000 flats it is now thinking of building? Would you mind showing us where this plenty of land is so that we do not have to raid the country parks for it?

Let me do the job for him.

We start with the Kwai Chung container port, which only 15 years ago was still a port in its own right. It is so no longer. It is now predominantly a transshipment centre. The real port business has gone to where it naturally belongs, which is mainland ports just across the border. The big Kwai Chung operators know it, too, which is why they are the big shareholders in the mainland ports.

Government is slower on the uptake but eventually will have to face the truth. A container port in Hong Kong for goods made in Guangdong no longer makes sense when Guangdong can build its own ports. The future for Kwai Chung is the death of a thousand cuts.

But we can always make this a more merciful end by converting the 2.7 square kilometres of land there to housing at an earlier date. Cover a quarter of this land with 30-storey housing blocks featuring flats of 750 square feet (much larger than the average of our housing stock) and we get 290,000 flats. This waterfront site also offers superb transport connections and proximity to the city centre.

Next target: Disneyland, where we regularly lose money to treat mainland tourists to rides and shops styled to silly American cartoon themes from the 1930s. No one ever really wanted it except our then chief executive, Ah Tung, and Disney is in any case now going to where it really wants to be and where it belongs, Shanghai.

Hands up now, Hong Kong residents, how many of you have ever visited Hong Kong Disneyland. Twice? Really?

That's 27.5 hectares, more like 50, when you take in the ancillary land. With the same density as I envision for Kwai Chung, we can get a further 54,000 flats.

Then Science Park and Cyberport, two futile attempts to encourage hi-tech in Hong Kong only to have the space filled by low-end app writers and the like. Together that's 46 hectares, and both sites are already close to high-density public housing. Fill them out with a little more reclamation, and we could have a further 50,000 flats.

There, done and dusted, almost 400,000 flats in four redevelopment projects. Brother Lau is right. The government has plenty of land.

jake.vanderkamp@scmp.com

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This article is now closed to comments

rpasea
The best way to get our useless govt officials to act is to tell them they will lose out to Singapore if they don't move the Kwai Chung port to China where it belongs. We all know how insecure these clowns are when they hear Singapore may take the lead in anything.
Singapore recently announced plans to move their port to a remote area and to build a new city in its place so I hope they take the bait. 'Kwai Chung Shing' has a nice ring to it.
pbhawk
All good common sense stuff - especially the comment about the Kowloon Ditch - but do you honestly think this bunch of jokers laughingly calling themselves a government would ever admit they are wrong and take any of your suggestions seriously?
John Adams
Another point in favor of flattening over Kwai Chung is the sheer lorry traffic volume up and down the highways from Shenzhen.
Stand next to the highways and count the container lorries driving past - it's like watching one never-ending express train.
Moving all container ports out of HK would also :
a) free up the harbor
b) stop all those hideous piles of containers on so-called "farm" land in the NT.
.
PS : as for visiting Disneyland : I and my family did so once and once only. NEVER again
HK-Explorer
No matter what the small house policy must be abolished first to take away to remove this sense of entitlement at the expense of the rest of the people of Hong Kong. The land is owned by the people of Hong Kong.
Any idiot can go back and look at old pictures of Hong Kong and see that there was very little land 150 years ago and that most has been created or flattened. Thus the indigenous people already have more land under their control now than 100 years ago. thus time to say "STOP" to this policy and start looking at everyone in HK and fair decisions.
HK-Explorer
Disneyland is a park for the kids and HK people go int he millions each year. Mr Van Der Kamp don't take away the enjoyment of Children to just to help your triads and rural strong men friends.
impala
Good point about Disneyland. There is also the not-so-trivial matter of private property rights. The land was leased to Disneyland for 50 years in 1999. Suddenly reneging on this after 15 years is not something any self-respecting government in a place with a decent legal system would ever do. It is right out there with Russia or Venezuela nationalising oil/gas fields.

The Fanling golf course however has a lease expiring in less than 4 years... now there is an opportunity.
impala
I appreciate Mr van der Kamp contributing some ideas to this discussion.

Yet, his math is completely off (a recurring theme). He proposes to convert a quarter of the 2.7 square kilometre at Kwai Chung Container Port to build 290,000 flats. 2.7 sq km = 270 hectares. A quarter of 270 hectares = 68 hectares. Mr van der Kamp wants to build 290,000 flats on 68 hectares?

Unless we build residential towers that reach to the moon, this is simply impossible. It implies a density of 4,250 flats per ha.

Even the highest density guideline in Hong Kong (those for small plots in central Kowloon), is not higher than 950 flats per hectare. For an area like Kwai Chung, a density of 700~800 flats per hectare is the norm. And really, that is already very dense (think Olympic Station area).

Taking 750 as a target density, all of the Kwai Chung 270 hectares could host 200,000 flats. But that is ALL of it, not a quarter. Although Mr van der Kamp might think it outdated, last time I checked, our container port was in full operation, so there must be some economic sense to it.

Disneyland: similar. An average New Town level of density of 800 flats per hectare would yield 40,000 flats max on 50 hectares. If we go for a Discovery Bay type density, it would be less than half of that.

So yes, by all means lets be creative in finding new land for residential development. But please don't paint pie in the sky pictures by using completely unrealistic density figures.
John Adams
Mr van der Kamp : I fully agree with your logic and your opinion on this matter
But if you really got the numbers wrong as badly as jve has written, please issue a reply
(PS : you can use the comments section to do this : no need to wait till next Sunday or Tuesday )
JC
Good on Jake for speaking some sense for once, regardless of whether you agree with his examples of land that should be repossessed by the government, or whether the land laws provides for such repossession. Coming from someone who had previously argued that Hong Kong has more than enough empty apartments to meet the needs of its residents, this is quite clearly an implicit admission of his guilt and short-sightedness in the past. Hong Kong residents deserve a better living environment
caractacus
Right on for once. The only "shortage" of land was deliberately and artificially created by the dirty policies of Donald and Henry who purposely and wickedly manipulated government land policy to benefit their developer mates at the expense of the less well off. The result is that HK has property with the worst value for money in the world.
Then there are the the thousands of decrepit old 3 to 5 storey buildings which could be redeveloped - by the government I hope - why should the filthy developers get the benefit?
When on the the top deck of a bus look around at the many open spaces to which people have no access.
Look at the hundreds of large brownfield sites.
That gives you at least another 400,000 flats.
 
 
 
 
 

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