New World, Henderson Land to be major winners in NT new towns

Developers own big plots of land in the new towns of Fanling North and Kwu Tung North

PUBLISHED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 05 July, 2013, 4:16am

New World Development and Henderson Land Development are set to be major winners under the latest town planning blueprint of the northeastern New Territories that covers Fanling North and Kwu Tung North.

Both developers own large swathes of land in the region that are to be zoned mostly for residential use under the blueprint of two new towns that the Development Bureau unveiled yesterday. Previously, their development plans were stalled by government studies of the area.

A New World plan to build a massive residential project in Fanling North's Wu Nga Lok Yeung, for example, will finally get a chance to get off the ground.

Since the early 2000s, the developer has applied 10 times to the Town Planning Board to rezone the 6.4 hectare site from a green belt to residential use.

In 2002, the firm suggested merging its site with nearby land to develop public and private housing estates spread over 33 hectares, including plots owned by Henderson Land, that could yield 20,765 flats. Then in 2004, it proposed building 17 blocks of 38 to 40 storeys, housing 5,168 flats.

The board rejected all the plans as it noted the site was under a town planning study. It also said infrastructure in the area was not sufficient to support a large residential development.

Under the new scheme, the Planning Department will rezone New World and Henderson sites in Fanling North largely for private housing. They are allowed to keep the sites and develop them after paying land premiums. If tenant farmers now occupy those sites, the developers are to compensate them with cash similar to the amounts tenants on government land get during land clearance. If both sides cannot reach an agreement, the government will acquire the land under the Land Resumption Ordinance.

Taken together, the area owned by the two firms is so large that it will also fall within zones earmarked for public housing and Home Ownership Scheme flats. The government is expected to acquire that part of the land and compensate the developers.

A spokeswoman for New World said they welcomed the latest scheme. "We will study the plan and co-operate with the government," she said.

Henderson Land said it would study the blueprint. The company is set to lose a valuable piece of land located along Castle Peak Road in the other proposed new town, at Kwu Tung North.

The plot will be rezoned for a public hospital and a rehousing site for villagers affected by the new town development. In 2000, the developer applied to build 30 residential buildings on that site.

Two other major developers, Sun Hung Kai Properties and Cheung Kong, also own sites in Kwu Tung North. PCCW chairman Richard Li Tzar-kai has a small plot there.

Tony Tse Wai-chuen, the lawmaker representing architects, surveyors and planners, said the land exchange conditions were reasonable. He urged the government to give a "reasonable deadline" so developers would have time to deal with tenants and negotiate with land officials on the land premiums.