10-year wait on harbourside homes to end

Project to build 5,200 small to medium-sized flats on old docks in East Kowloon bay goes before planning board after decade of revisions

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 February, 2013, 4:39am

A massive private development in east Kowloon big enough to provide 5,200 flats in the next six years will be scrutinised by the Town Planning Board today after staying on the drawing board for a decade.

The Planning Department says, in a paper advising the board, that it has "no in-principle objection" to the Yau Tong Bay project proposed by a consortium led by Henderson Land Development.

"The application site is readily available for construction and would provide a significant number of small to medium-sized residential flats to meet the market demand," the developers have said, according to the paper.

The site, covering a total area of 99,000 square metres beside the Eastern Harbour Tunnel and zoned as a "comprehensive development area", is formerly an industrial area occupied by dockyards and wood workshops.

The project has been revised several times since it was first proposed in 2002. It now comprises 28 apartment blocks, four hotels, shops, and facilities for children and families, and is intended to be completed in two phases - the first by 2017 and the second by 2019.

A marina has been dropped because of technical difficulties and legal restrictions on reclamation from the harbour. A harbourside promenade will be built by the developers and it will link up with Yau Tong MTR station.

The consortium has acquired 83 per cent of the land, with the rest owned by the government and a few individual landlords, including an industrialist who wants to convert his factory block into a hotel.

The board today will also look at the MTR Corporation's project atop the future railway station at Wong Chuk Hang, which aims to construct 4,700 flats by 2024.

The project has received a total of 328 comments from residents and green groups, with 311 objecting on the grounds of traffic congestion, insufficient provision of public open space and excessive building bulk.

The Planning Department, again, shows no objection.

Meanwhile, the Housing Authority's subsidised housing committee yesterday decided to modify the mechanism for deciding who qualifies for its rental homes. The new system will help low-earners who suddenly found themselves ineligible following the minimum wage law.

The authority also confirmed that a largely vacant public rental housing block in Tai O will be converted to homes for sale. The block was originally planned for conversion into a youth hostel as part of a project to revitalise the old fishing village in Lantau.

Separately, former lawmaker Lee Wing-tat of the Democratic Party yesterday announced the formation of a think tank comprising a group of professionals who would monitor government land and housing policies.

The Land Watch has already proposed a basket of measures to prevent developers holding back flats from the market, including a rule requiring developers to disclose construction progress and sales data of their new flats.