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  • Updated: 12:44pm
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DEVELOPMENT

Build a ‘parkland city’ in Lantau South: Akers-Jones

Ex-chief secretary’s idea shot down by man who laid down master plan for country parks in 1965

PUBLISHED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 20 September, 2013, 7:28am
 

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A former chief secretary has proposed developing part of Lantau South Country Park as a "Parkland City" with nature trails, bicycle tracks and flats, saying some land had been included in country parks without in-depth consultation.

Sir David Akers-Jones' controversial suggestion came two weeks after Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po floated the idea of building flats on country park land.

But Professor Lee Talbot, dubbed the "Father of Hong Kong Country Parks", opposed the idea and urged the government not to opt for an easy way out in its land search.

Akers-Jones, 86, said: "It's only recently that Hong Kong's country parks were enlarged, and land which should have been left for future development was included without overall and in-depth public consultation as to needs for development."

Lantau North Country Park was extended by 2,360 hectares in 2008 as compensation for the loss of ecology when Chek Lap Kok airport was built.

Akers-Jones, who was chief secretary in the mid-1980s, said: "Look at the huge area of Lantau South Country Park where there are virtually no villages or private land to impede change.

"It could be developed as a parkland city planted with an arboretum of native trees and bamboo, nature trails, a Hong Kong orchid garden, bicycle tracks, and housing in an enjoyable environment - something new for Hong Kong."

Akers-Jones, a firm supporter of Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, was secretary for the New Territories in the late 1970s.

"To develop a country park, in the way I have described, should not be prohibited. We face very many years of waiting before the so-called development areas will actually yield results and provide housing," Akers-Jones said. "Here is an idea which would not only yield results, but the parkland would be full of excitement and discovery."

He said the flats could be 20 to 30 storeys.

The 5,640-hectare Lantau South Country Park is the largest among the 24 parks.

In Lantau South, village stone paths hundred of years old can still be found. Its peninsula Chi Ma Wan has plantations that support a variety of butterflies and birds. While rare plants flourish on the slopes of Lantau Peak, the island has provided roosting and feeding places for many rare wild animals, including the white-bellied sea eagle.

But Talbot, who laid down the master plan for the country parks in 1965, said the government should have a long-term population plan that takes into account the impact of a rising population on the welfare of residents.

The 83-year-old environmental adviser to the World Bank and United Nations warned of setting an unprecedented case in country parks.

"Experience worldwide shows that once development is allowed to invade parks and protected areas, the process continues and often accelerates. It is like the camel's nose under the tent," he said.

Former Observatory director Lam Chiu-ying warned Akers-Jones' idea would turn the concept of natural assets belonging to all into "profits for developers and selected private parties".

"People living there would need a car to drive. They won't be ordinary people," Lam said.

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This article is now closed to comments

XYZ
Just because Mr. Akers-Jones was a director of Mingly Corporation, the owners of Discovery Bay, for more than 20 years is no reason to suppose his plans for developing Lantau would benefit the Cha family in any way. I'm sure that the owners of Mingly, like most property developers in Hong Kong, are civic-minded patriots who are indifferent to their own financial interest and only wish to do what's best for the residents of Discovery Bay and the future of Hong Kong. Mr. Akers-Jones' plans for developing Lantau should be received with the same sincerity with which he selflessly presented them.
HK-Explorer
100% this guy is paid by developers to act like a foreign government pretending to support removing of country parks. It is getting really sick having this organised process to remove green space from Hong Kong. Normal people have no ability to fight these rich special interests.
Hong Kong should only build on land that was previously allocated illegally to so called indigenous villagers for the ridiculous small house policy.
Lets just stop this idiocy of paving over our parks.
rpasea
Moving Kwai Chung port to China and building a new city there makes much more sense.
caractacus
This would be the thin end of the wedge and Akers-Jones should know it. How many times has a site of natural beauty or of heritage and scenic value been handed over to developers only to be raped and despoiled for greed?
CatInAFlap
Akers-Jones is a brown nosing, good-for-nothing, shoe-shiner who should go quietly into the dark night. Time for some new voices in the SCMP, not this tired, old man intent of keeping his nose firmly in the trough.
hardhang
Sold his soul to the devil ...
wwong888
F-CK THIS IDEA. F-CK THIS GUY. HE SHOULD JUST DIE ALREADY. HE SIMPLY REPRESENTS DEVELOPER INTERESTS.
klsocha
If the government wants to assign more land for development, there are enough options open to them which would be more logical than the Country parks -
Things which benefit no-on like Derelict schools and government sites.
Things which benefit a tiny minority of Hong Kong Citizens like Private Clubs and Golf courses.
Possibly the worst culprit of land wastage is the land given to "indigenous" people to build small houses on - immense amounts of land are wasted on this guilt trip practice.
There is so much land being wasted in Hong Kong which could be more easily redeveloped with the support and acceptance of the majority of Hong Kong's people. The only problem is that the people who are charged with the responsibility of taking care of Hong Kong are unable to make decisions which are solely made in the best interest of the majority. They always focus on their own personal benefit or what they perceive as the easy way to go where they will avoid the wrath of the wealthy or their own relatives and friends.
The option of taking land from Country Parks for development should be at the bottom of any list of available land for development.
whoaman
Mmm...after looking at Mr. Akers-Jones 'resume', I'm not so sure he's for the regular people in this suggestion. Look at what Discovery Bay has 'morphed' into. A commercial crowded place with high rents that isn't that convenient.... no 'nature' to speak of close by that's any different from any other new town in the NT. Polluted beach, high rises everywhere....
Byebye
Whatever left behind from the development of Chep Lak Kok airport in Landau will remain a country park, no need to build anything by the name of country park. Lautau was and by nature is a country park (the whole island of country park), Chek Lap Kok claimed part of it as airport, beneficial to all people in Hong Kong, that's fine, we can live with that. An extra country park is good. However if there is an "agenda" behind this proposal to free out the existing country parks, then it is not a good proposal!

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