District councillors slam plan to rezone Stanley sites for luxury flats

Government accused of selling public resources to cater to the rich

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 4:03am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 01 April, 2014, 6:21pm

District councillors have criticised the government's plan to rezone two green-belt sites in Stanley for luxury flats as selling public resources to the wealthy.

If the proposal is approved, the two sites on Wong Ma Kok Road, near Stanley Barracks, will provide 222 four-storey flats as part of a "low-rise, low-density" residential development.

At a Southern District Council meeting yesterday, the Planning Department said its studies showed there would be "no significant traffic, infrastructure, environment or visual impact" on the 0.43-hectare and 2.54-hectare sites if they were rezoned.

But the plan drew heat from seven out of 10 district councillors at the meeting.

"They are selling off valuable Hongkongers' assets to build 200 luxury flats," Lei Tung councillor Lo Kin-hei said. "It is obvious that ordinary citizens will not be able to afford these four-storey low-rises … One must ask, how will this help to solve the city's housing problems?"

Wah Fu councillor Chai Man-hon said the rezoning plan was akin to giving up green-belt land, which was enjoyed by many across the city, in order to "satisfy the rich".

"Stanley has enough luxury developments. But poverty - you will only have added to it," Chai said, referring to the city's widening wealth gap, partly fuelled by out-of-reach housing prices.

Pok Fu Lam councillor Paul Zimmerman criticised the department for not giving the council alternatives for consideration.

To ease the city's pressing housing shortages, the government plans to build 470,000 flats over the next 10 years. Sixty per cent of those flats are supposed to be public housing.

Targeted sites for the flats include 152 green belt and community sites, 14 of which are located in Southern District. Only two of the 14 have been identified so far.

"We don't even know where the other sites are. They should be presented to us at the same time," Zimmerman said.

Several district councillors said the police training school in Wong Chuk Hang should be rezoned for housing, given its large area and prime location.

But three found the government's proposal viable, saying that all classes in society had housing needs.

"Hong Kong still needs to attract professionals and foreign talent," district councillor Dr Yang Mo said. "Even rich people need housing."

District planning officer for Hong Kong Island, Ginger Kiang Kam-yin, said all comments would be taken into account before the proposal was brought to the Town Planning Board's Metro Planning Committee.

All residential development plans had to factor in if the type of housing was a fit with the area where it would be built, she said.

Zimmerman urged the department to revise their proposal and return to consult the council again before seeking the board's approval.