Lunch with CY Leung: district council leaders opposed to housing plans to meet the chief executive
Leaders of four district councils opposed to development plans are invited to lunch. But will chief executive's overtures be hard to stomach?
Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has invited the leaders of four district councils objecting to public housing plans in their areas to lunch in an effort to settle their differences - but he may have an uphill task.
Representatives of all four councils invited to the meal at Government House on Friday have restated their opposition to the plans.
The lunch invitation is believed to be an attempt to overcome obstacles that may block Leung's pledge to build 200,000 new public rental flats by 2023.
On his blog last night, Leung said the government had experienced a lot of resistance from the districts, which were opposed to rezoning the land. He urged district councillors and residents to "consider the big picture and make the difficult decision to practically solve the land and housing problem".
On the guest list for the luncheon are chairmen and vice-chairmen from Yuen Long, Kwai Tsing, Kwun Tong and Sham Shui Po councils.
They oppose rezoning in their areas for public flats unless traffic, infrastructure and other issues are resolved.
"The council is in full support of the government's policy to build public housing," Yuen Long council vice-chairman Wilson Wong Wai-shun said.
"But they really have to look at the big picture of the area before they do it."
He said that Yuen Long was already densely populated and the government needed a comprehensive study on the population and capacity of public facilities before adding more housing.
"It lacks facilities and a self-sustaining economy, which would allow people living here to work in the same area."
Wong said he also expected objections from country areas where villages would have to be moved to make way for public housing.
Kwai Tsing council unanimously passed a motion two weeks ago opposing the rezoning of 13 sites selected for the flats unless traffic and other issues were resolved.
Chairman Fong Ping said only two sites had gained council approval so far.
Fong believed councillors were open to negotiation if the government promised to improve the traffic and facilities.
Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po and Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung will also attend the lunch.
Land owners in Yuen Long South could be given incentives to construct multi-storey factory buildings to accommodate rural industries displaced by new housing developments.
The proposal, revealed by the Development Bureau yesterday, is aimed at addressing the problems faced by its plan to relocate the district's rural industries from an area of about 100 hectares to an area about one-fifth of the size.
The Planning Department hopes to achieve this by building special multi-storey factory buildings to accommodate the industries, which include garages, recycling workshops and open storage.
However, the 20 hectares it hopes to use for the factories is in the hands of private land owners, who are already renting out the land.
Yesterday, a spokesman for the bureau said that to encourage the owners it was considering relaxing a planning rule that stipulates that no new permanent buildings can be built on land reserved for agriculture and open storage.
"The government is considering giving incentives, like relaxing the plot ratio [development density] of open storage areas and agricultural land, to encourage land owners to build such factories," the bureau's spokesman said yesterday.
Under the bureau's plan, 15 hectares would be set aside for industrial usage and five hectares for open storage.
The spokesman said the government would consider reserving more land for such industries if it failed to resettle the operators.
Operators have questioned whether the multi-storey factories would be practical.
The district of Yuen Long South spans 216 hectares and is home to about 2,200 people.
Under the development plan, which aims to accommodate 78,000 residents, the first of 26,100 new apartments, of which public housing makes up 60 per cent, will be ready in 2025.