Luxury estates targeted for more housing
Southern District eyes 14 sites, including several exclusive areas, to build 10,400 public and private flats as part of government initiative
Fanny W. Y. Fung and Shirley Zhao
Some luxury estates and secluded areas in the Southern District are to be further built up as part of the government's initiative to build 470,000 new homes in the next decade.
In a paper submitted to the Southern District Council for discussion on Thursday, the Planning Department proposes rezoning 14 sites in the district to build 10,400 public and private flats.
Five of these sites are planned to be developed in the next two years, with two green belt sites on Wong Ma Kok Road, Stanley, earmarked for private housing and three other sites in Pok Fu Lam destined for public housing: in Wah Fu (North), Wah King Street and Wah Lok Path.
The latest plan comes after the proposed rezoning of green belts for residential use in other parts of Hong Kong - most notably in Tai Wo Ping, Sham Shui Po, and Lo Fai Road, in Tai Po - sparked protests by residents of luxury flats nearby.
While the exact locations of the nine other sites planned for development beyond 2016 have yet to be announced, the department said they were "mainly slopes or land covered by short-term tenancy in close proximity to existing residential developments". Seven of them are currently zoned as green belt areas.
Some of these sites are near existing upscale homes in Red Hill Peninsula, in Tai Tam; Shouson Hill, by Deep Water Bay; and on Stanley Village Road.
The plan also involves the rezoning of the three sites in Pok Fu Lam for new public housing, where residents of the nearby Wah Fu Estate may have to be relocated as the estate will be redeveloped.
Pang Shiu-kee, managing director of SK Pang Surveyors, said the land shortage was most serious on Hong Kong Island, so the government was keen on developing these green belt or open space sites for housing.
He said sites around Stanley, Tai Tam and Shouson Hill, which are traditionally areas for luxury housing, would probably be targeted for similar low-rise and low-density housing.
But Pang said it would be difficult for the district council to pass the plans, because most councillors did not want to ruin the green areas or residents' views.
Southern District councillor Paul Zimmerman said his biggest worry with the plans was the potential traffic problem.
He added that there had been a "significant traffic problem" between the district and Central, causing the Aberdeen tunnel to close several times a day due to over-capacity. The tunnel closed about 300 to 400 times a month, he said.
"The government has been looking at all sites it can find to develop housing, but we also need to think of a new way of development, such as how to plan a sustainable traffic system," said Zimmerman.