Large-scale property development planned for enclaves

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 4:37am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 March, 2014, 4:37am

The recent revelation that government departments did not heed advice from the Country and Marine Parks Board to incorporate certain enclaves into our country parks should come as no surprise.

It appears this government's true intention is to initiate property development on a large scale inside country park enclaves. The recent enclave zoning exercises were a farce, evidenced by the fact that the government won't even listen to people it appointed to oversee the well-being of our marine and country parks. The government has designed smokescreens to minimise public opposition to real estate development inside country parks.

In view of Hong Kong's housing shortage, our Development Bureau has emphasised the need to find building land. Constructing houses in enclaves, however unsuitable these sites may be for residential buildings, meets the objective of "finding land". The bureau wants to create in the public's mind that finding land is analogous to resolving the housing shortage. It is banking on an ignorant public not asking "Is remote enclave farmland suitable for mass residential buildings?"

The government has allowed certain high-profile enclaves, for example, Tai Long Sai Wan to be incorporated into our country parks. However, of the 54 enclaves in question, only three have now been incorporated. Half of the 54 have been or will be zoned for development.

The government is twisting the small-house policy to cater to the interests of property developers. The policy gives indigenous villagers the right to apply to build village houses for their own use. Now it seems that right is often transferred to developers so they can build luxury villas for profits. Most enclave farmland, owned by developers, has now been v-zoned (village type development).

Ignoring advice from green groups, government departments bent their own rules, abridged assessment reports so our Town Planning Board can issue on time the first batch of enclave outline zoning plans, all of which came with grossly enlarged v-zones which are incongruent with realistic housing needs derived from historic data.

Why allow developers into the enclaves when it is unlawful to do so? Incompetence? Maybe. Some irregularities involved? Perhaps. I cannot substantiate this with proof, but it doesn't mean it doesn't exist.

In most developed societies, governments are elected to serve the general public. Here, on the issue of country park enclaves, our government prefers to serve a chosen few.

Thomas H. Hou, Sai Kung