Development plans for Hoi Ha threaten marine park
The original intention of the small-house policy was to provide opportunities for eligible male indigenous villagers to build houses on their own agricultural land, provided the land is V zoned [village-type development] for their own use.
The reality, as seen in the recently gazetted outline zoning plan for Hoi Ha, is quite different .
This plan appears designed to provide opportunities for certain Hong Kong companies to develop properties on former agricultural land. The number of houses foreseen is three times the size of the existing village.
The existing V zone has been enlarged to accommodate the developer(s).
This plan, if allowed to go ahead, will destroy an area of secondary woodland. It will also adversely impact the Hoi Ha Wan Marine Park, its coral habitat and the beaches that surround the bay due to the inevitable outflow of pollutants that has nowhere else to go except to the marine park waters. Moreover, little or no land has been proposed on which the eligible indigenous population can build.
Certain government officials have tried to argue the case that allowing more buildings in our country parks will alleviate Hong Kong's housing shortage. I question the validity and the motives of their argument.
Hoi Ha is situated about 50 to 70 kilometres from the central business district.
There is no public transport to this village other than infrequent minibuses that run during daylight hours only.
There is only one road that connects it to Sai Kung. Travelling time to Central is about two hours. There are no shopping malls, public schools or hospitals within 30 minutes by car.
I simply cannot imagine any average-income family wanting to move to Hoi Ha. So, why build 94 more houses there? My guess is that rich people who want a holiday home will find the natural beauty of Hoi Ha Wan irresistible and are willing to pay premium prices for luxury villas built here.
As the outline zoning plan is in complete violation of the original intent of the small-house policy, I suggest the government scrap it in its entirety.
How did the Town Planning Board come up with this plan and why did some officials argue in favour of it?
Tom Hou, Sai Kung