Planning Board gives nod on taller towers for Kai Tak flats

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 November, 2013, 5:04am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 November, 2013, 5:04am

Towers on four housing sites at the former Kai Tak airport will soar an additional 20 metres after an increase in their development density was approved yesterday.

The Town Planning Board sanctioned a government plan to raise northern Kai Tak's density by 20 to 22 per cent as part of efforts to meet demand for flats.

Approval came despite an objection from adjacent landowner China Overseas Land and Investment, which said the change would reduce the value of the flats it plans to build and damage investors' confidence.

As well as taller towers, the increased density will provide an additional 33,900 square metres in gross floor area on the sites, one of which is designated for subsidised housing.

The remaining sites at Kai Tak are under review by the Civil Engineering and Development Department, which is expected to complete the task by the middle of next year.

China Overseas, which bought two sites for HK$2.27 billion each in June, said the change would be unfair.

"Approval of the application is unfair to the adjacent lot owner as the original outline zoning plan is the only statutory document that indicates the planning intention and development requirements as well as the reference used by the prospective bidder to make a decision in land investment at the time," the developer was quoted as saying in a paper provided to the board by the Planning Department.

"Should the application be approved, the original development conditions and commercial edges for the development of the sale sites would be very different, which would reduce the property value for the sold flats.

"The investors will lose confidence in Hong Kong and be treated unfairly as the government is not maintaining a good business environment."

A spokesman for the board said members had concerns about the implications of the overall increase in development density of Kai Tak, but they did not discuss the developer's objection.

Board member and Polytechnic University real-estate professor Eddie Hui Chi-man said the board was more concerned about the planning problems on a macro level than with land owners' individual worries.

The University of Hong Kong's chair professor of the department of real estate and construction, Chau Kwong-wing, agreed that the flat price could be undermined in a denser environment, though it was unlikely to be a huge reduction.

"But this is part of the risks involved in land sales," he said.

City University real estate expert Dr Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung said the change did not cause injustice as the government's intention to increase flat supply by raising plot ratio in all possible sites was clear.

China Overseas did not reply when asked if it would launch a judicial review against the change.

Other critics have expressed concerns that the change will undermine the original character of the district, which features a low-density, intimate neighbourhood network.