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  • Dec 23, 2014
  • Updated: 12:06pm
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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
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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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This article is now closed to comments

Cliff B
The man's a moron and developers are close to, if not, the biggest scum of Hong Kong. If you let them have even an inch, they'll take a mile and won't stop there. These people only care for profits and worship the all-mighty dollar, they couldn't give a monkeys about the housing problem - they just want the land for profits and I'd be interested to see how much "commission" Paul Chan would receive for all this.
daily
I just wonder if this idiot will ever shut up and step down so that all us SCMP readers won't have to voice out our anger towards him here...........would sure save us a lot of time and then we can read up on other guys we do like............hahahaha...............
Byebye
SCMP - it may not be a bad idea to print all the views posted here regarding building flats in Country Parks on your news.
Another Social Critics...
If this Idea come out from Paul Chan said, at least for public Discussion, then More should be Proposed, like including HK'CE' House & Its Resort House in FanLing, & Etc...Too!!!
In Addition to Cheung P.L.'s proposal in its Committee, especially in coming Ten Year's HK Housing Development...
Pretending to be so Massive & WholeHearted Scale in Consideration for Majority of HK's General
Populations - Housing Needs!!!???
1) See thru on its Estimate of coming Housing Need - Its Quantity, not to mention any Quality if even Mentioned!?
2) See thru on its Proposed Scale of Possible Land Supplies - Its Quantity, not to mention its Share in Public/Private Sector!!??
3) See thru on its Coming Execution Time, Even if possibly Realized!!!???
Disclosing that 'CY' & Its Related Group - No Intention in Services to HK's general Populations!!!
Never ask for Best Interests - Affordable Housing...Government & Private Sectors!!!
1) Under-Estimate causing Further In-Balance of Supply/Demand!!!
2) Chasing More Lands for Self/Others Profiteering in Actuality!!!
3) Not only 1 to 2 or even more Terms be required in Execution!!!
Disclosing that 'CY' in Fear but Intention in Remain in Positions as 'CE'...
For What...You'll Tell!!!???
Abuse of Power, Manipulation for Self/Other Profiteering...
Corruption need more Informers Only.
AuManLun/Ex-Railway Minister's Incidents...More
Don't be Further Deceited...Central China Government!!!
IMMEDIATE DISMISSAL of 'CY' & Its Related Group...!!!
Dai Muff
He says ""The development of country parks was seen as a restricted area, if not a taboo. Is it still completely untouchable and unmentionable today?" Yes. That is what "taboo" means. And there is your consensus. Why mention ignoring a taboo, defining your own "consensus" to suit yourself, while all the time this government says it wants a harmonious Hong Kong? "Harmony" is not achieved by doing what you want and then forcing the people to agree. But this government has a problem understanding this.
hardhang
Mr Chan's a visionary ,,,, in need of his glasses ,,,, thick ones at that ...
mercedes2233
Wait a minute. Does Chan Mo-po and his wife and his son and wife's bankrupt brother etc own any more land in those areas, or have links with developers? He hasn't got an entirely squeaky clean reputation.
sklailee
Let's be fair. Preserving 70% of HK's land as country park,countryside when we top the whole world in house prices? Environmentalists and conservationists are vocal but they only represent themselves, a small minority in the population.
I agree to the suggestion of restrcting people form the mainland from grabbing houses in HK, but this restriction must not be made a pre-requisite before country parks can be developed.
HK will be a good place to live in even if only 40% of our land is country park.
wjohnw
When will Hong Kong Learn?
The Country Parks are for all HongKongers, they are a jewel that cannot be weighed, a porcelain vase that cannot be copied...
It is an abhorent idea to suggest they we utilised for accomodation, Paul cHan Mo-Po has revealed himself as part of the insipid process to resensitise Hong Kong people to an idea that benefits developers only, by providing cheap to build on land, and maximising profitablitity while stealing the gift of space, of out doors and of nature from Hong kong as a whole.
In stead of spending multi billions of dollars on a bridge to Zuhai, perhaps we could use that money to build a urban plan for the territory that utilised internal connections to outlying islands, bridges and tunnels to artificial islands off of the current 3 major land masses?
We certainly have the technology and knowhow, it might cost more, but in the long run we could all look around and see that we did not sit ideally by and watch the place get bulldosed.
Create instead of destroy...
Create instead of destroy.
.
boondeiyan
If the majority of HK people want to pave over the country parks then let it be done.
.
Problem is, we have no conclusive means of knowing what the majority of HK people want on this or any issue. One of the slight drawbacks in an authoritarian system of government.

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