'Strategic' new town Hung Shui Kiu picked as data hub, but villages to be cleared

With 60,000 homes, Hung Shui Kiu site is also earmarked as logistics and technology base, but 1,400 village households will have to be cleared

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 July, 2013, 8:40am

An 826-hectare plain bordering Tin Shui Wai has been earmarked for a "strategic" new town that will yield 60,000 homes, serve as a logistics hub and connect Hong Kong with Shenzhen.

But the project, at Hung Shui Kiu in the northwest New Territories, is expected to encounter similar opposition to that facing another newly announced scheme in the northeast as about 1,400 village households will have to be displaced.

We think Hung Shui Kiu has a strategic role to play in Hong Kong's development. It will be a major source of the city's mid-term housing supply. It is also close to Qianhai

"We think Hung Shui Kiu has a strategic role to play in Hong Kong's development. It will be a major source of the city's mid-term housing supply," a Development Bureau official said when releasing the blueprint yesterday. "It is also close to Qianhai," he said, referring to the mainland special economic zone in Shenzhen.

The blueprint, now up for a second round of public consultation, divides Hung Shui Kiu into several theme areas, including a 62-hectare site for logistics facilities and a 10-hectare site for information technology including data centre uses.

The town will yield 60,000 flats, half of them public housing, with the first batch ready in 2024. The number of flats is almost the same as the dual-town project being planned in Fanling North and Kwu Tung North in the northeast New Territories, that now faces vehement opposition from villagers and activists.

It is also equivalent to five times the number of flats in Taikoo Shing. A quarter of Hung Shui Kiu is now used as open-air storage for cargo containers.

The official said multi-storey blocks would be built on the logistics area to save space and provide a range of services.

The future town will have a new West Rail station to connect it to the city centre and a road to link with the Kong Sham Western Highway that leads to Shenzhen.

Areas around the railway station will be for commercial use with building heights up to 40 storeys.

The official said compensation would be an issue before the land was ready for development.

While 20 indigenous villages would be preserved, five out of the nine non-indigenous villages would be cleared.

"We have tried to keep as many villages as possible. But the five are located in the future town centre. We need to strike a balance," the official said.

A preliminary survey found 1,400 squatter huts in those five villages, but the exact number of residents is not known yet.

Albert Lai Kwong-tak, of the Professional Commons lobby group, said it was a good concept to develop the town into a logistics centre that would give residents jobs, but the government should also come up with an economic policy to match the land available. He called for timely compensation for villagers.