Plan for 10,000 new flats in Tai Po welcomed by district councillors

District councillors welcome government proposal to ease housing shortage but question why it took the administration so long

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:10am
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 January, 2014, 3:10am

The government plans to develop 26 hectares of land at eight sites in Tai Po to build 10,000 flats amid a city-wide search for land to build homes.

Tai Po district councillors gave the plans a generally positive reception at a meeting yesterday, although some said development had been unnecessarily delayed by the government's lack of vision. Others expressed concerns about the effects on traffic.

Under the proposal, the eight sites, most of which have been zoned as green belt or for government, institutional or community use, will provide space for between 9,590 and 10,020 flats. No timescale has been put on the plan and the government has not decided whether seven of the eight sites will be for public or private housing.

The other site, adjacent to Tai Po Hospital, will be used for a high-density development of 5,400 public flats. Tai Po District Council first put forward the idea of building public flats on the site in 2008 but the government rejected the idea, preferring to allocate part of the site for the development of a private hospital. That idea was abandoned after the only bidder for the site failed to meet tender conditions.

Councillors said the plan for the site was long overdue.

"I am glad that the government has finally agreed to build public rental housing there … We have wasted so many years," said Man Chen-fai, a member of the council's environment, housing and works committee.

Planning department officials at yesterday's meeting of the committee said the administration would look into the possibility of building public rental flats at another of the sites, a half- hectare plot near Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital.

Councillors welcomed the idea of more homes but expressed concerns about increased traffic and the possibility a shortage of parking spaces in the area would be exacerbated.

"These developments mean tens of thousands of people will move into Tai Po. There will be heavy pressure on traffic and the demand for recreation and parking facilities will also increase," said councillor Lam Chuen.

Transport Department engineer Wong Kwok-leung said the department would look into ways to ease traffic flows and offer more parking spaces. He said the government might require developers to take measures to ease traffic problems.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying is expected to make tackling a shortage of land for residential development a key theme of his policy address next Wednesday in an effort to cool the property market.

Reports last week suggested that the government was struggling to meet its target of releasing enough land to build 20,000 new flats by the end of the fiscal year in March.