Plans for flats on two Tai Po sites rejected

Incomplete assessment of the impact of public flats projects draws criticism from councillors who accept a third, largely undeveloped, site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 July, 2014, 8:58am

Plans for more public housing flats in Tai Po came under attack from district councillors yesterday, with criticism ranging from a failure to consider transport infrastructure to obstructing views of existing estates.

Two of the three sites were widely rejected at a Tai Po District Council meeting, dealing a setback to the Housing Authority, the government's developer of public flats.

Only the plan to build 4,860 homes in the largely undeveloped Tai Po area 9, in the northeast of the district, received general acceptance.

Proposed residential blocks in Chung Nga Road East and Chung Nga Road West, to yield 1,690 homes, drew opposition from most of the councillors.

They said the authority failed to include in its latest project report a thorough assessment of the supporting transport, educational and social welfare facilities.

Earlier, concerns about noise and environmental pollution as well as traffic jams have been aired by residents of Fu Heng estate and Chung Nga Court, both on Chung Nga Road. Fu Heng is expected to be hemmed in on its east and west by those two projects.

"The authority cannot just ignore the public's opposition by saying only [the views of ] 272 households [on Fu Heng] will be affected and that they account for only about 4.7 per cent of the total" 5,800 Fu Heng flats, councillor Wong Pik-kiu said.

Another councillor, Au Chun-wah, said: "We do not rule out voting down [the authority's] plans, if it fails again to come prepared with measures to tackle the issues raised by residents in our next meeting."

The flats earmarked for the Chung Nga Road sites will make up about 26 per cent of the 6,550 proposed homes, to span a total of 9.55 hectares.

Apart from the issues mentioned by the councillors, the authority has yet to elaborate on how Chung Nga Road West, partly owned by Sun Hung Kai Properties, will be managed.

The three sites are now either zoned for government, institute and community use, or as green belts. The Town Planning Board is to hear the public's views in the next few months over their proposed rezoning for residential purposes before deciding whether to grant its approval.

In May, the government stepped up its lobbying of district councils when Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying invited the chairmen of four councils, in Kwai Tsing, Sha Tin, Wong Tai Sin and Yuen Long, to Government House for lunch.

Councillors from those districts had opposed rezoning sites to accommodate housing.

The Tai Po council first put forward the idea of building public flats at Tai Po area 9 in 2008, but the government rejected it, preferring to allocate part of the site for the development of a private hospital. Plans for the hospital were abandoned after the sole bidder for the site failed to meet tender conditions.