Town planners yesterday approved the rezoning of two Sai Kung sites in the government's land sale programme despite objections from a local church.
The land, located near the Sai Kung town centre, is to be converted from community use to housing. Both sites combined are expected to yield almost 380 public flats.
The sites are among 36 government, institution or community (GIC) zones across different districts that the administration of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has identified as suitable for turning into housing. Residents argue the land should be kept for developing community facilities.
In the case of Sai Kung, the Town Planning Board has received 42 objections from members of the Resurrection Church in Pak Sha Wan, and from the church itself.
They said the church had made nine unsuccessful attempts since 2003 to obtain a piece of land in Sai Kung so as to build a permanent centre to better engage locals.
"There is no research on the long-term demand and supply for GIC land," the church said in its submission. "They should not be rezoned as it would be difficult and costly to resume land for GIC uses later on."
It also said the restricted development intensity set for the sites meant they would result in only "negligible contribution to land resources to meet the housing needs".
The site on Hong Kin Road is now home to a plant nursery, while the one on Hong Tsuen Road is vacant. They are expected to generate 61 and 318 flats, respectively.
The Sai Kung District Council did not raise any objection, but suggested using the land to build subsidised flats under the Home Ownership Scheme instead of private housing.
A spokesman for the board said it approved the rezoning proposal for Sai Kung because there was land available in the district for the church to use. Preliminary assessments showed residential development would not have a serious impact on traffic and the environment in the area. The most notable row in the rezoning of GIC sites centres on a plot of land in Kowloon Tong, which the nearby Baptist University is fighting to secure in order to develop a teaching hospital for Chinese medicine.