Huge driving-range towers in Sai Kung called 'blot on landscape'

Golf and tennis academy's driving range a 'blot on the landscape' that breaches preservation plans, say residents and community activists

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 5:41am
UPDATED : Sunday, 29 June, 2014, 5:41am

A luxurious golf and tennis academy being built in Sai Kung has been branded a "blot on the landscape" because of 14 huge towers erected to support nets on its driving range.

The towers rise as high as 50 metres and dominate the hillside of Pak Kong, an area reserved for recreation and agriculture. They have been called an eyesore by a community group and residents, who questioned why such a development was given approval.

Questions have also been raised over why permission was granted for the 100 flats being built as part of the club, which the developer, New World, says will be used only for "overnight accommodation".

The government said in its outline zoning plan for Pak Kong that it would "conserve the intrinsic natural character of the scenic hilly landscape".

This involved promoting "recreation and productive agriculture on the valley floors" and maintaining "the character and intensity of the residential developments in the area".

But comments on a community Facebook page describe the development as dreadful, horrible and an eyesore.

One resident questioned how the developer was able to obtain planning permission at all, saying: "It stands out like a sore thumb, and that's without the nets and potentially floodlights."

Another says the towers do not "conserve the intrinsic natural character" of the area and do not comply with the zoning plan.

Planning permission for the development was originally granted in 2000, but it has only begun to take shape in the past few months and is due to be completed next year. According to the plan, the golf and tennis academy will cover about seven hectares and feature a golf driving range, tennis courts, a clubhouse and ancillary accommodation.

Amanda Cheung, of Edelman, a PR company acting for New World Development, said the project would respect the natural green environs of Sai Kung by using "dense vegetation and green building construction and by adopting solar heating".

A spokesman for the community group Friends of Sai Kung said the development showed how Hong Kong was failing to protect areas of natural beauty.

"Most countries and cities around the world, including even the poorest, are promoting green policies, while Hong Kong is going backwards," he said.

The Planning Department said the height of the towers and appearance of the development were not subject to restrictions.