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  • Dec 19, 2014
  • Updated: 10:15pm
NewsHong Kong

New Territories housing proposal may tee off Fanling golfers

Development secretary mulls using golf course land to build new homes amid opposition to dual-town project in northeastern New Territories

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 July, 2013, 5:50am

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po says a golf course in Fanling, which activists singled out as an alternative location for a new town project, might be taken back for redevelopment.

His comment is seen as a move to pour oil on troubled waters, as some lawmakers from the pan-democratic camp joined the chorus of opposition to the HK$120 billion dual-town project unveiled on Thursday.

Chan was referring to the 170-hectare golf course run by the Hong Kong Golf Club, which villagers say is a better choice for development than their homes. They threatened to occupy the golf course - which is more than half the size of the 333-hectare dual-town project - if the government did not scrap the blueprint.

When asked by a TVB reporter in an interview yesterday whether the government would listen to the people and develop the golf course, Chan gave this reply: "The golf course has contributed to sports development in Hong Kong. But times have changed. Is there room for review [of the land use]? I agree there is."

He pointed to an ongoing review by his bureau with the Home Affairs Bureau into dozens of sites under private recreational leases, where clubs were allowed to lease land with nominal rent such as HK$1,000 a year. The Development Bureau said it would take back some of the sites when the leases expired. The lease of the golf course will expire in 2020.

The bureau confirmed last night that the golf course would be included in the study for a new town in the northern New Territories, which will start next year.

Chan said the site would not fit into the schedule of the North East New Development Areas, which will see the first batch of housing ready in 2022. Given its size, it would take several years to study many aspects of the site, including pollution, water supply and electricity, and to provide infrastructure. Public consultation would also be needed, he added.

The government has said it would explore another potential new town proposal for the northern New Territories to link Ping Che-Ta Kwu Ling with land released from the closed border area, after mooting the dual towns Fanling North and Kwu Tung North in the northeast.

Meanwhile, the pan-democratic camp was unimpressed by changes the government has made to the plan for the two new towns, despite a proposal for more subsidised public flats.

Critics are concerned mainly with a decision to let developers build private flats on their own land after the original plan, introduced last year, drew threats of court action from some firms.

Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah questioned the administration's rationale. "[The new plan] is hard to accept," he said. "The government is surrendering to … and trying to dodge opposition from developers."

Developers had threatened a judicial review of the initial plan, under which the government would have resumed - and auctioned - all the land the companies had spent years acquiring.

In the latest scheme, only private sites zoned for infrastructure, community facilities and public housing will be resumed.

Democratic Party lawmaker Wu Chi-wai favoured converting part of the golf course into housing. "At least you can [make people feel] you are not offering favours or thinking only about the interests of a few," Wu said.



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This article is now closed to comments

When interest rates go back to rational levels, the demand for spec housing will fade and the grandiose plans for 400,000 flats by govt will look a little silly.
A better approach in any case would be to redevelop the vast tracts that are filled with old and decrepit buildings. Increase the plot ratios from 15 to 20, scrap the allowance of 100% site coverage up to 15 meters and watch taller buildings with more open space at ground level emerge. Hong Kong would still be a densely populated city but with more open and green space benefiting people. As it is now, people are fighting a losing battle with vehicles for ground level space. Turn HK into a garden city.
The golf club has a 27 year waiting list - it is a beautiful oasis in the middle of the urban sprawl of the area - to destroy it is ridiculous - and whilst it is an exclusive private members club, ANYONE can play there and enjoy its beauty during the week ...
HK Golf club has some of the most powerful people in Hong Kong as members.... There's pretty much a zero chance of anything happening to it.
Fanling Golf Club is a beautiful oasis in a crowded city. It would be criminal to destroy it for housing. Better public access should be negotiated on lease renewal. More housing space? What about the Castle Peak Firing Range or some of the other underused military sites? This was reported on in the Post in February - nearly 2600 Ha available.
170-hectare = 1,700,000 sq m. Assuming a market value of say, $20 per sq m per month, the annual market rental value is HK$240 per sq m. Therefore the annual market rental value of the golf course of 170-hectare is HK$240 x 1,700,000 = HK$408m. Clubs were allowed to lease land with nominal rent such as HK$1,000 a year. In other words, Hong Kong taxpayers are currently subsidizing about HK$408 million a year to the Golf Clubs. Can the Government justify such subsidy?
John Adams
Certainly YES !
Why should the golfing hobby of a tiny elite take precedence over the housing needs of the many ?
There are plenty of golf courses in Shenzhen and elsewhere in China. The elite have their chauffeur-driven cars to get there in comfort, so let them drive to China to play (instead of blocking our streets with their illegal parking)
And give back our land to our people !
John Adams is correct, there are plenty of golf courses in Shenzen; there is also lots of vacant land and empty apartments; so move all those who are not 'elite, rich or famous with drivers' move there and leave Fanling alone .... it cuts both ways!
Chan said the first batch of housing in the North East New Development Areas will be ready in 2022. The lease of the golf course will expire in 2020. Just in time for building a new town project - all concerned parties should mark this in their diaries!
John Adams
But not during the weekend when normal people rest from work...
And anyway, how many people play golf in HK apart from the rich and famous>
The technology exists
1 Stop landfill dumping and export the waste to Europe which needs it as a commodity
2 Reverse mine our landfills
3 Produces a massive amount of recovered land for housing



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