Developments seen as homes for the rich

Southern District councillors worry that most of the 14 sites planned for new housing are located in areas too expensive for middle-class buyers

PUBLISHED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:12am
UPDATED : Friday, 16 May, 2014, 3:12am

Southern District councillors are concerned that 14 planned government housing developments are targeted at the luxury market and will be out of reach for middle-class buyers.

At a council meeting yesterday, they said they were worried that the development would not benefit grass-roots and middle-class people, would worsen local traffic and damage the environment, as eight greenbelt sites were included in the plans.

Ten of the 14 sites are planned for private housing, including two near Regalia Bay in Stanley, one on Lee Nam Road in Ap Lei Chau, two near Ma Hang Estate in Stanley, four around Shouson Hill by Deep Water Bay and one in Red Hill Peninsula in Tai Tam.

The rest, all near Wah Fu Estate in Pok Fu Lam, are planned for public housing. But about 60 per cent of the 10,400 flats expected to be provided on all sites would be public housing units, according to the proposal.

Details such as the height of the development, its density and the traffic plans have not been disclosed.

Many councillors were upset that only four sites were set aside for public housing. They were also worried that the plans would only allow more luxury housing to be developed in Stanley, Tai Tam and Shouson Hill - areas known for expensive homes.

"I can't see how developing housing on these sites will help middle-class people to buy a home," said councillor Au Nok-hin, adding that typical property prices in Shouson Hill were high, with the lowest slightly under HK$30 million.

They were also concerned that more development would exacerbate traffic problems in the district, saying the Aberdeen Tunnel and roads between Pok Fu Lam and Central were seriously congested.

Councillor Ada Mak Tse How-ling said officials should not expect the MTR Corporation's South Island Line - which is due to be completed next year - to solve the traffic problems, as the private housing development would mainly draw residents with cars. "People living in luxury housing estates won't be taking buses or the MTR and there will be as many new cars as new residents moving in," she said.

Undersecretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung said the bureau would discuss traffic plans with the Transport Department.

He said there should be private housing for the city's middle class, but he did not elaborate on whether some of the sites would be developed into expensive housing that even middle-class residents could not afford.

He said the government needed more time to draft detailed plans and promised it would not put any site to the Town Planning Board before consulting the council.

Some environmentalists protested at the meeting against using greenbelt sites to develop unaffordable housing, while a group of Wah Fu residents voiced their support for the estate's redevelopment plans.