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NewsHong Kong

Heung Yee Kuk leader backs idea of country park flats

Lau Wong-fat urges review of protected areas, saying homes could be built on less ecologically sensitive land to ease city's housing shortage

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 11 September, 2013, 5:06am

Rural strongman Lau Wong-fat has suggested flats could be built in certain areas of country parks to ease the housing shortage.

He called for a review of the size of the parks, but rejected a suggestion that land allocated to indigenous villagers be rezoned to boost the supply of homes.

There's no universal standard for setting the size of country parks. It would depend on the local context to decide its proportion

Lau, chairman of the Heung Yee Kuk, said a review would help the government strike a balance between protecting the countryside and addressing the soaring demand for flats. He also said private land inside parks should be released to build more flats.

"There's no universal standard for setting the size of country parks. It would depend on the local context to decide its proportion," Lau said yesterday.

His comments came two days after Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po floated the controversial idea of building flats in country parks, which was seen as a radical departure from the chief executive's pledge during his election campaign to protect parks from development.

Lau echoed Chan's view that flats could be considered in ecologically less sensitive areas of the parks. "For land [in parks] that is worth protecting, the government should specify them and compensate the owners if they are privately owned."

But he rejected outright the idea of allowing the rezoning of village land reserved for indigenous villagers to build homes. He said: "The government has plenty of land. How come it is eyeing privately owned land?"

And he expressed disappointment at the administration's failure to meet demand for homes from indigenous villagers, comparing it to the scramble to find land for urban dwellers.

Henderson Land chairman Lee Shau-kee agreed that country parks could be downsized. He said reducing the parks by one per cent could provide land to house more than 100,000 people.

But such ideas were criticised by ex-officials, including former planning director Peter Pun Kwok-shing and former Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying.

"The way we decided a country park's boundary is not science or derived from calculations," Pun said. "But I won't say it's arbitrary. We consulted the Agricultural, Fisheries and Conservation Department and other experts."

Factors taken into account included the need to protect water catchments, trees and animals, and preservation of the topography. "We need a study to justify why we need to redraw the boundaries," he said.

Lam, who helped Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying formulate the environmental policies in his election manifesto, likened the idea of building flats in country parks to a cancer cell. "If you give away 100 square feet now, later you will ask for 100 square feet more. Ultimately, it will destroy the original aim of having country parks, which is to enable the public to enjoy nature."

Green areas, including woodland, wetland, barren land and country parks, make up 70 per cent of the city's land. Country parks alone make up 40 per cent.

The new administration has relaxed its planning rules to allow flats encroaching upon green belts and open space.


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I'm sure many indigenous villagers wouldn't mind letting women have the same rights. We can build twice as much.
But realistically, people no longer have huge families with lots of sons. I have one of each and would also like my daughter have the option of staying in the village. And there are no official 'ownership' rules on whether girls can inherit the house.
Obviously I and many of my generation are not of the dark ages. But I think my proposal would be horrific to government.
The real problem is that the government should get out taxing property. But then it will cause a property crash. Then there is no problem about unfairness and 'free' houses for indigenous villagers.
Lau Wong-fat is talking in circles. He says develop country in country parks because there is not enough land. Then he says don't touch the outdated indigenous land which is being held for people not even born yet because the Hong Kong government has so much land.
This guy makes absolutely no sense at all.
The government should say "Any indinous person already born within 2013 will be included but anyone born after that will not be. They can then scale back allot of land.
Then say that all new indigenous the building must be at least 15 feet tall and have 8 apartments per floor. That each apartment is 800 SQ feet and each eligible person gets 1 flat.
Then Hong Kong will become a fairer place and there will be tons of land to build housing without touching Hong Kong precious public parks.
Greed is in the air. Hong Kongers, its time to start looking at this outdated privilege to be removed from these so called indigenous people who have now become non others than Hongkongers like us.
This guy is a crook all the way through - his only goal is protect his own land holdings...
There are so much ideal land in New Territory being used as dump. They should be forcibly acquired for public housing in the public interest.
Off course the **** wants development in the Country Parks. They want the associated infrastructure to unlock the development potential of remote private land holdings, including the large village house development areas they are being granted in the enclaves. Say goodby to the country parks.
724 lots of land he owns & he was never investigated for failing to declare all of them.
"For land [in parks] that is worth protecting, the government should specify them and compensate the owners if they are privately owned." kinda says it all.
This is the guy who lost control of Tuen Mun District Council when Junius Ho beat him in a fair election in 2011, only to see devious Bowtie reappoint Lau to the same District Council where by magic he became Chairman again.
Maybe this country park $$ use will be the first motion proposed in Legco by Lau since 1998 ?
Currently there is a delegation of NT Concern Group members off to Europe looking for 'deng uk' candidates. Time that house policy was finally ditched.




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