Golf range sacrificed for public housing project

Cheung Sha Wan residents will lose the open space, but have been promised another spot

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 January, 2013, 3:45am

District councillors fear the government's desperate search for housing land will eat up recreational space, after it was announced a golf driving range must give way to housing.

It is the third time planning officials have lobbied district councils since Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying last month called on the public to sacrifice their interests and support the construction of public flats in their neighbourhoods.

They told members of the Sham Shui Po District Council that the temporary golf range on Lai Chi Kok Road, Cheung Sha Wan, would be rezoned shortly.

The 2.3 hectare site is expected to yield 2,300 units by 2019.

Leung had earlier identified the driving range as a potential housing site, but details were only revealed to the council a few days ago. To compensate residents for the loss of open space, a similar sized site will be rezoned as open space. It now houses a poultry wholesale market and two government blocks, including a factory run by the Housing Department.

Councillor Chum Tak-sing noted the department's Wang Cheong factory estate, housing small industrial workshops, was fully occupied.

"I do not object to building public flats on the golf [range], but why did you choose this site with occupied buildings to compensate for the loss of open space? When will the factory estate ever be vacated?" Chum said.

Alvin Chu, planning officer with the Housing Department, confirmed that Wang Cheong was one of the few factory estates that were fully occupied and it was in good structural condition.

He said there were no plans to evict the tenants and vacate the blocks, unless the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had plans to use the site for recreational facilities.

"I sympathise with [the] planning people, because [they] have to give up [their] professional principles to entertain [the] boss' order for more housing land," Chum said.

The Planning Department said there was sufficient recreational space to meet the demands of Sham Shui Po's population, but could not elaborate.

Apart from the golf range, two sites in Sham Shui Po - a 0.15-hectare plot facing a main road, and a 0.22-hectare spot, which is now a temporary car park, will be used for commercial and private residential use, respectively.

Councillors agreed with the changes although some of them noted that the additions to the land bank were "piecemeal".

They were also concerned a refuse collection point next to the car park would become a nuisance to the residents.

But officials said the facility had to remain to serve the area and it would be rebuilt with measures to make it odour-free.