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Henderson Land tycoon Lee Shau-kee gives land in Tuen Mun for nursing home
Third time lucky for Henderson chairman as he hands Tuen Mun site to Pok Oi Hospital for use as care facility for elderly with up to 2,000 beds
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Property tycoon Lee Shau-kee has succeeded in his third attempt to donate land for public use - by providing a site on which to build the city's largest nursing home.
The 100,000 sq ft plot in Tuen Mun has been given to Pok Oi Hospital to develop a facility for up to 2,000 old people needing long-term care.
The hospital, which is managed under the Hospital Authority umbrella but also operates as a charity, has 30 years' experience in running nursing homes.
Lee, the 84-year-old chairman of Henderson Land Development, tried earlier this year to give the government land to build cheap homes for young people, but was turned down. He is still in talks with the non-government Housing Society on a donation of land to build 1,000 small homes to sell at HK$1 million each.
Donation of the Tuen Mun site, a public car park close to Siu Hong West railway station, was formally completed on Friday.
"Pok Oi has a good track record in providing elderly nursing services and the site is only 15 minutes away from the hospital," Henderson vice-chairman Colin Lam Ko-yin told the South China Morning Post yesterday.
He said the company had planned to use the land to build flats, but the application process was too "lengthy". The nursing home would address the city's ageing population problem.
The company confirmed that it had applied in 2008 to rezone the site, currently earmarked for low-rise residences and community use, for comprehensive development, which would allow more commercial uses. But the application was rejected by the Town Planning Board in 2009.
As the land was owned by Henderson, Lee had donated HK$107 million - the value, according to independent assessment, of the land if it were developed for low-rise housing - to the company to make it a personal donation. The non-profit project will be supervised by a committee comprising representatives from the hospital, Henderson and other experts.
The donation was welcomed by Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung, who said the city faced acute demand for care homes.
But the chairman of the Elderly Services Association of Hong Kong, Kenneth Chan Chi-yuk, said the massive project might create excessive supply in the remote district.
"It is very generous of Mr Lee," Chan said. "But the demand for nursing homes in Tuen Mun is far smaller than in Kwun Tong, Wong Tai Sin and Sha Tin," he said. "Old people waiting for a subsidised nursing place tend to choose those located in urban areas as they want their family to visit them more often."
Social Welfare Department figures show that 29,642 old people have applied for subsidised residential care services, resulting in an average waiting time of more than three years. Some have to wait as long as six years and die before getting a place.
No figures were available for the waiting list in Tuen Mun, but the latest population projections show it will be one of five satellite towns facing a rapid growth in the elderly - by up to 41 per cent - in the next five years.
Pok Oi Hospital said Lee approached it with the plan in July. It hopes the project will obtain cash from the Lotteries Fund, set up by the government in the 1960s to finance welfare projects.
"The site would allow building of three separate homes," the hospital said. "But the final number of beds and the proportion of subsidised beds and private beds will be decided after discussion with the department," it said.