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LEADER

Hong Kong should look to Lantau for development

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 4:00am

The suggestion by a business group that Lantau Island be developed as a commercial zone to draw mainland tourists away from crowded Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui, at first glance, seems far-fetched. Lantau is much removed from the glitz and glamour of Hong Kong's famous shopping districts, literally as well as in terms of perception. But given what the city's largest island has in terms of infrastructure and the implications of the completion of the bridge to Zhuhai and Macau as early as 2016, it is obvious that it offers massive development potential. When seen from this context, its benefits go beyond mere malls.

Lantau was long among our most isolated and least-developed places, travel to and from being dictated by ferry timetables. The decision to locate Hong Kong International Airport on its northern side necessitated bridges, road and rail links. That opened the way for expansion of Tung Chung as a new town, Disneyland and the Ngong Ping 360 cable car. Despite the developments, though, many still see the island as being far away, to be visited only for air travel or recreation.

The Lantau Economic Development Alliance, a grouping of 10 business and community organisations, has the right idea. Picking up on a revised concept plan for the island's development released by the government in 2007, it envisages fully tapping the potential of infrastructure and available land for retail, convention facilities and tourism. The proposal that locating more shops there would take the strain off traditional shopping areas is worthy of consideration. Enlarging on the idea, north Lantau also offers a partial solution to some of our other problems, housing being the most vexing.

Authorities have made much of our land shortage. Piecemeal solutions have been put forward involving developing a parcel of land here, another there. That has led to radical and expensive suggestions like reclamation, building in old quarries, digging out rock caverns and shaving off parts of country parks. Lantau little features in the discussions, yet that is where the most potential for growth lies.

The island has long been known as "the lungs of Hong Kong", a place of mountains, valleys and forests. Country parks make up just over half its area and they need to be preserved. But there is room to move to the north, in a few years to be joined to the mainland and Macau by the bridge. An opportunity for development not to be ignored is staring at us.

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rease.92
YES, CONCRETE EVERYTHING over! Cut all the trees, fill in all the rivers, sell everything to the mainlanders so they can launder their bribes.
Level all the mountains in Lantau, to build more runways for the airport, because if you need oxygen and fresh air, you will need to leave Hong Kong.
But then, what reason is there to stay in Hong Kong? Just to be slaves to spitting mainlanders? Work, sleep, pay tax, die?
Want tourists?
Protect all country parks. Remove all enclaves that are not yet protected from within country parks. Restriict development to already developed areas.
Put a high tax on new buildings, promote refurbishing existing buildings, making them energy efficient, reducing the need of power plants.
WHEN WILL YOU LEARN THAT YOU CANNOT EAT MONEY?
lizshack
Are you seriously suggesting that we cover one of the last remaining segments of Hong Kong's lungs with shops and convention centres? Will you not be happy until every last inch of Hong Kong is covered with concrete? Or this article a joke?
captam
@"But there is room to move to the north, in a few years to be joined to the mainland and Macau by the bridge. An opportunity for development not to be ignored is staring at us."
Yes, but some selfish idiots working in the aviation sector are trying to grab this site and get Government to fund construction of an unneeded third runaway. Construction of this runway will make life intolerable for those living under its flightpath. This is one of the reason's that former Kaitak airport was closed down.
We can also say goodbye to the dolphins for good if these environmental criminals get their way.
johnyuan
Indeed Lantau Island should be considered for development even by default that it is trouble free by comparison with NT. The six sites so far being identified for housings on the other hand have the validity for being infill among more or less of the existing city fabric which would be less capital intensive and earlier to improve housing stock. They are also more organically integrated with the city.
But still, the government should seriously put some thought on a more visionary approach to solve city congestion and housing shortage all at the same time. What I vision is to develop Landtau whereby to accommodate the needed housing but too to halve the density of the rest of the existing city by locating there. I am looking for a habitable environment free of air pollution from congested car traffics in Hong Kong. Is it too much a pipe dream?
ianson
Insane editorial.
megafun
Lantau is our back garden! I hope the Gov will consider my suggestions of allowing MTR to construct a 30 to 50 storey commecial shopping plaza above Lowu and LokMaChau stations. No extra land is required, only planning permission. If the "right" contractor is found, the project can move ahead with both stations operating (see how IFC and ICC were constructed with MTR running). Also, the HK-administered side of the Western Crossing has potential of a new experimential trading zone - such as another 30 to 50 storey mall over that entire area!!
rease.92
Why not mix residential and business districts to save on transportation?
Why not put public housing estates right into Central, Admiralty business districts, so that the cooks and cleaners won't have to travel from Yuen Long and Shenzhen every day?
Why not put banks and lawyers offices into Fairview Park in Yuen Long so that bankers and lawyers can effectively sell their cars and walk to their office? With online banking this shouldn't make a difference to customers.
Why not connect the container terminals to the mainland cargo rail network, and gain access to the whole mainland?
Why not build the Macao bridge as exclusive rail bridge and NOT as another way to bring trucks into the city?
Why not close the streets in Central to traffic forever, now that a bypass tunnel is constructed under reclaimed land? If businesses need goods delivered, they could use the MTR. Put cargo trains there, have them carry containers between midnight and sunrise.
There are so many logistics companies and logistics is taught in university. Have the students find green solutions. They will love it. I guarantee it.

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