Tai O's stilt houses safe despite new zoning, say planning officials

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 3:14am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 July, 2014, 3:14am

Town planners have zoned the land on which Tai O's stilt houses stand as residential - despite an ongoing review into whether the buildings should have heritage protection.

But planning and lands officials say the picturesque Lantau homes are not in danger of being knocked down to make way for conventional dwellings.

Under an outline plan for the Tai O Town Centre, six hectares of land on the banks of Tai O Creek and along Shek Tsai Po Street - mainly occupied by wooden stilt houses built over the water - are zoned as a low-density residential area.

In contrast, the site of the Tai O Heritage Hotel, a grade two historic building, is zoned as "preserved for cultural, recreational and commercial uses".

A two-month consultation by the Antiquities Advisory Board on how buildings such as stilt houses should be preserved is due to end on August 4.

District planning officer Ivan Chung Man-kit said the Tai O plan clearly stipulated an intention to preserve the "general character" of the stilt houses.

"We asked the Antiquities and Monuments Office and they said they had not reached a conclusion yet on the built heritage policy, so they did not object," he said at the Town Planning Board.

Director of Lands Bernadette Linn said the stilt-house landscape would be retained despite the residential zoning.

She said licensing conditions for rebuilding the houses would limit the use of materials and building height.

Yesterday, some board members urged the government to conduct "holistic" planning to preserve the houses.