New plan to develop wetlands fails to win over Hong Kong planners
A developer's amendments to a controversial plan to build housing on wetland in Nam Sang Wai have failed to win over planning officials, who say approving the plan would set a bad precedent.
The revised plan for 1,600 flats, put forward by a consortium made up of Nam Sang Wai Development Company and Kleener Investment, will be discussed by the Town Planning Board on Friday. The board rejected an earlier proposal for the site in Yuen Long in July, citing environmental grounds.
The earlier scheme drew 10,529 comments from the public; 10,483 were objections. All but two of the 600 comments on the latest plan were against it.
The Planning Department also objects, saying the plan does not follow guidelines for development in the Deep Bay wetlands.
Opponents say the area is one of the city's last remaining wetlands and must be preserved. The developers say leaving the site idle without active management would also mean long-term degradation.
The new plan increases the number of towers from five to 10, but reduces their height to less than 10 storeys. The number of flats remains similar, but their visual impact is reduced. Some 9.2 hectares of reed bed would be created to compensate for reeds removed during construction.
But the department says development in the area must result in "no net-loss" of wetland and minimal pond-filling. It said the developer underestimated the ecological impact of the 40-hectare development on the 122-hectare site. "The applicants have failed to demonstrate the loss of ecological function can be adequately compensated," the department said in a submission to the board.
The applicant claims the net amount of wetland lost will be about 8.2 hectares.