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  • Dec 25, 2014
  • Updated: 8:38am
CommentInsight & Opinion

Hong Kong public care more about affordable flats than golf

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 July, 2013, 3:51am

Should golf courses be bulldozed for housing? The question has been raised as the debate over a new town project continues to rage. Last week, lawmakers passed a motion urging the government to include the 170-hectare Fanling course into the contentious northeast development plan. Although the move is not binding, it raises a valid point. Instead of flattening villagers' houses, how about making use of the golf courses nearby?

The Hong Kong Golf Association is understandably disappointed by the suggestion that two of the three 18-hole courses could be sacrificed for housing. It said the city's five golf clubs only have 189 golf holes in total, whereas Singapore has at least 378. The association said the Fanling site has been home to the Hong Kong Open since 1959 and is the only local venue suitable for the international tournament. Golf clubs also provided facilities for non-members and help develop amateur golf to an international level, it added.

Hong Kong's golfing standard and the ability to host world events are certainly important to the sports community. This, however, has little resonance in a city hard-pressed for more land for housing. The truth is that golf, despite a growing appeal to the middle class, is still a symbol of wealth and status. That the Fanling golf club is paying token land premium and rent to the government, but charging handsome fees for members as well as outsiders for using the courses, does not win public sympathy for its fight to keep the site. The public care more about how many flats could be built than how many holes of golf we are short compared with Singapore.

The government may be right to say it is unrealistic to expect the golf course could be resumed immediately to replace the northeast development project, saying it would take years to clear the environmental assessment, infrastructure and planning issues. But that should not prevent the government from exploring the feasibility in future should the need arise. Meanwhile, there is a need to rationalise the land premium and make the golf club more accessible to the public.


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Any analysis on what flats built on the golf courses would cost the end users after the costs of site preparation, infrastructure installment, transportation links, construction, etcetera are added up? I am guessing at least 5-6K per square foot. Is this affordable? There are already many flats in this price range already available in Hong Kong. Granted, these apartments are not in central business areas, but neither is Fanling. People need to realize that building more apartments doesn't mean they will be cheaper than what is already available.
there are evidently 250,000 empty apartments in HKG owned by hoarders or money launderers
Either way they should be monetarily punished for hoarding them
We have 270 hectares of landfills that could be reverse mined to provide land for public housing
Instead our blinkered Govt seeks a further 400 hectares in which to bury even more recyclable waste
i assume your land development costs are based upon low density and low rises (undr 3 storeys), cause if its based on higher density, say 40-50 storeys and plot ratio of more than 10 - say about 20; then land development costs will not be more than $1000/ft2.
1K per square foot development costs seems way too low. I based my estimate on a recent article about a plot sold in Homantin for ca. 10K per developable square foot. The land is in an area that is already rather densely developed with all of the necessary infrastructure already in place. The developer who bought the land said that they will target 17-18K per square foot for the completed flats. 17-18K minus 10K land costs minus 5-6K development/financing costs = 2-3K profit.
green grass on golf courses are NOT environmentally green, as it takes alot of GHG (power from coal-fired stations and fresh water) to keep that grass. The concept of golf courses being an "environmental jewel" is stupid! Get your GHG calculations correct.
The choice is not between building or not building. It is not a matter of whether we want green, or do we want concrete. Of course, we all want green if the question is phrased that way.

The city's population is growing, and with it its demand for housing. The choice is therefore not whether, but where will we build. Must we continue to bulldoze villages, encroach on the country parks and pour concrete over agricultural land, while leaving the golf course completely untouched?

I say the golf course is just as fair a target as the villages, agricultural land and other green areas in the rest of the NTNE district.


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