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  • Aug 30, 2014
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HOUSING

Development secretary Paul Chan floats idea of building flats in country parks

As city sets 10-year housing target amid acute land shortage, minister says the possibility of developing park spaces should be discussed

PUBLISHED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 09 September, 2013, 3:59pm
 

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  • Yes: 17%
  • No: 83%
9 Sep 2013
  • Yes
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Total number of votes recorded: 711

The development minister has floated the idea of building flats on land in country parks, questioning whether such a controversial option was "untouchable and unmentionable".

The remarks by Paul Chan Mo-po are a radical departure from Leung Chun-ying's pledge when he was running for election as chief executive that country parks "should be protected from development as far as possible", a vow he shared in an interview with the South China Morning Post almost two years ago.

Laws stipulate that country parks are designated for the purposes of nature conservation, countryside recreation and outdoor education.

Chan's suggestion came after the committee devising a long-term housing strategy for Hong Kong last week unveiled a proposal to build 470,000 flats in the next 10 years, a target criticised as unattainable given the limited land supply.

Chan wrote on his blog yesterday that society should discuss and explore the possibility of developing country parks - an idea he said had recently been raised in various seminars - as more land would be needed to reach the housing target.

"During the exchange, someone mentioned that 70 per cent of Hong Kong's land is country parks, [and] in face of a shortage of land supply and a big housing demand ... can they not be developed at all?

"The development of country parks was seen as a restricted area, if not a taboo. Is it still completely untouchable and unmentionable today?" Chan asked.

Giving an example, he said some people believed development on Lantau, which is mostly country park, should not be limited to the island's north.

Criticising Chan's remarks, environmental activist Roy Tam Hoi-pong, of campaign group Green Sense, said the government should instead review immigration schemes aimed at attracting mainlanders, otherwise an influx of hundreds of thousands of people in the coming decade would make housing demands unbearable.

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Meanwhile, the secretary for transport and housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, said building more flats had to take priority over increasing their size, although housing capacity and quality were mentioned in the committee's proposal.

"If you can't even increase the quantity, how do you increase [flat] areas?" Cheung said on TVB Jade's On the Record.

However, he hoped that the Housing Authority would consider building bigger public flats in more remote areas, conceding that Hong Kong fell behind some less developed countries in terms of living space per capita.

Lau Ping-cheung, Leung's housing adviser and a member of the committee, suggested vacant industrial buildings be turned into interim housing for people waiting for public flats.

Fellow committee member Fred Li Wah-ming said old public flats to be vacated for redevelopment should be converted into interim housing for the 230,000 applicants in the queue.

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HK-Explorer
Prior to discussing developing in country parks the government should remove the small house policy. They should end it to eligible people already born. Anyone born after now is no longer eligible to free land to build a house.
They should then amend it to the land can only be used to build 10 story buildings with 4 flats per story and that each eligable person gets 1 flat of 800 SQ feet and they cannot sell this flat (or the land).
This will then mean HK has honoured its pledge for providing a house for the indigenous people alive today who were already entitled.
This will then provide enough land for development without touching country Parks.
XYZ
Of course the topic of examining whether some parts of some country parks might be used for development can be discussed, although it would seem that preserving green areas in Hong Kong has met with widespread community approval for many years. For Mr. Chan to decry the subject as "untouchable and unmentionable" is a measure of his ill-temper, not a genuine invitation to re-visit the policy. Instead, it is the typically petulant response of an arrogant government official when the public raises questions or objections to the official's plans. In effect, he is threatening the Hong Kong public who dare question his decisions by saying, "If you don't accept my plan, then we'll take away your country parks". The man should resign. Now.
dienw
..... I suspect he has a plot of land in a country park which his wife wants to sell to her brother.....
Dai Muff
Somehow he does not seem to grasp the concept of a country park.I think the golf courses for the rich should go before the country parks, which are for everybody. Besides the problem is not as much the lack of housing as the lack of affordable housing. Try controlling the greedy speculators in living space first.
dynamco
www.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/1290468/pressure-mounts-chan-step-down
"Lawmakers passed a motion on Friday morning urging Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po to step down over the conflict-of-interest row relating to a new town project.
The non-binding motion, moved by People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip, was passed by the Legislative Council's development panel with a vote of 11 to 7."
Which part of this does Chan Mo-Po not understand ? What are the chances of getting this project passed through Legco ? What are the chances of getting any proposal by Chan Mo-Po through Legco ?
It seems Chan & CY Leung are the only people in Hong Kong who do not realise the resignation time is past due for Chan. Without trust in the proposer, any such policy is doomed.
Meanwhile reverse mine the landfills to create land for public housing.
The 150,000 tpa plasma trial plant would be free , just Govt to provide the land FOC.
fsk999
CY's Election Manifesto 2012:
Natural environment conservation:
12. We will refine the conservation and development of our country parks, extend coastal parks by phases, and develop other kinds of reserves to expand the ecological capacity of
Hong Kong.
13. We will take steps to protect outstanding natural scenery as one of our nature conservation objectives, identify places of high scenic value in the territory and adopt appropriate
protective measures.
14. We will review the integrated social values of the agricultural industry in Hong Kong from the perspective of ecological landscape and 'Green Hong Kong' and set up an interdepartmental working group to formulate policies to promote and support new-age multifunctional agricultural activities on land suitable for agriculture.
"Refine" does not mean building flats inside Country Parks Mr Chan.
caractacus
What a stupid, IGNORANT, morally reprehensible statement.
This was C. Y. Leung's 2012 Chief Executive Election manifesto promise: "We will protect our country parks and bodies of land and water with ecological value, and formulate long-term plans for other areas of land available for development."
Is C.Y. Leung going to check if any member of Paul Chan Mo Po's family owns land in a country park? Will Chan propose sub divided flats there next?
The country parks should belong to all the people of Hong Kong, but the village enclaves are all under imminent threat of massive development already by the Heung Yee **** and its developer allies.
Has there been struck some underhand deal with the Heung Yee ****, whose chairman, coincidentallly, is a member of Exco?
Will C. Y. Leung honour any promise he has made? Is there ANYTHING which can remain sacred, incorruptible and sacred from the filth and corruption of developers?
C.Y. should kick this creature out of his administration.
Kubrick
Once the country parks are gone, what next? We need a sustainable land policy. Stop the influx from the mainland, cancel the obscene small house policy and then look at using some of the idle military land. Of course, none of this will happen because vested interests have more power then the ordinary people.
HK-Explorer
Yes, Golf courses should be gone prior to country parks. Golf courses provide no financial benefit for Hong Kong and provide no benefit for 99.9% of people in HK.
They also do not help the environment at all. It is just short grass with allot of pesticides and allot of GAS / Water to keep them in top shape. They are not environmental like country parks with trees which help clean the air.
HK-Lover
Since Hong Kong has such limited space we should also look at the reason we need more and more housing. One that comes to mind is the the daily quota allowing mainlanders to settle in HK. Adjusting the quota to a much lower limit would release a lot of pressure on the housing situation.

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