Councillors slam Development Bureau's no-show in meeting

District condemns 'arrogant' handling of plan to lift development restrictions in Pok Fu Lam

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 5:02am

Southern District councillors said yesterday they would submit to the chief executive a letter of condemnation against the Development Bureau.

The councillors' decision comes after the bureau failed to send a representative to a meeting yesterday to explain to them the government's planned lifting of development restrictions in Pok Fu Lam.

The letter will condemn the bureau's "arrogance" in handling the matter, the chairman of the council's district development and environmental committee, Lam Kai-fai said.

The committee had earlier invited the Development Bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau to a meeting to discuss the impact on the district of the proposal, which was announced in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's recent policy address.

But only the Planning Department sent a representative, who was unable to give details on the issue, Lam said.

As a result, the committee decided to postpone the meeting until the government sent people who could explain the proposal.

A majority of the councillors also voted in favour of sending a letter to condemn the Development Bureau.

"There was public participation for the development of [former airport] Kai Tak," said Southern District councillor Chai Man-hon. "I don't want the development of Pok Fu Lam to become a closed-door matter."

Leung's policy address had stated that the government was considering relaxing or lifting a moratorium on development in the upmarket areas of Pok Fu Lam and the Mid Levels as part of its efforts to find more land for housing.

Present restrictions require Executive Council approval for new land sales and enlargement of private buildings.

Those living in the district are concerned that easing the regulations will trigger a surge in population and mass developments in the area, hence overwhelming the already congested transport system.

Shortly before yesterday's meeting, the Development Bureau had written to the council saying that the proposal's impact on transport in the district was being considered and that no concrete recommendations or timetable were yet available.

Councillor Paul Zimmerman disagreed with the councillors' move to write the letter of condemnation, but pressed the Planning Department to consult the council on the existing town zoning plan.

If the moratorium were lifted, town zoning requirements would be the final gatekeeper against certain developments, Zimmerman said.

The government should consult councillors on what changes they would like to introduce to the existing plan, he said.