Kitchee football centre can remain in Sha Tin for time being, Hong Kong government says
But sports club will still be required to relocate centre once officials find new venue for it, as they plan to use current site for housing
Kitchee Sports Club’s football training centre can stay in Sha Tin for now, the latest government papers showed, a surprising move from officials’ earlier plan to take the site back to develop housing.
But the Housing Department made it clear in the papers submitted to the Sha Tin district council that the club can use the venue only until another site has been found for the centre’s relocation. Kitchee spent HK$84 million to build the centre, which has operated for only a year.
A 32-storey residential building with 560 flats was proposed for the 46,300 sq ft site on On Muk Street.
Kitchee’s chief said questions remained over whether the government could find another site that would fit the club while local district councillors were concerned about the suitability of the Sha Tin site for housing.
“There are so many questions,” Kitchee boss Ken Ng Kin said. “Where will the site be? How much will the construction cost?”
The club is using the site on a short-term tenancy agreement, which needs to be renewed yearly. Local district councillors last month cited the Housing Department as saying that it planned to take the site back when the latest contract ends next September.
That revelation surprised many football fans and triggered controversy. Ng earlier criticised the government for misleading the club into thinking it could occupy the site for a long time, and Chan Yuen-ting, Hong Kong’s first female football coach to lead a pro-league championship team, also spoke out against the plan while being awarded the Bronze Bauhinia Star on Saturday.
Under the latest proposed amendments to the Sha Tin zoning plan, to be discussed in a district council meeting today, the training centre will remain as it is while an adjacent site currently designated as open space will be rezoned for housing.