Luxury housing plan for Hong Kong’s Ap Lei Chau set for rough ride at Town Planning Board meeting

District councillors and many residents say they oppose application to rezone site formerly used by School of Motoring for private housing development

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 8:42pm

A government plan to use the former site of the Hong Kong School of Motoring on Ap Lei Chau for private residential development is likely to receive strong opposition from district councillors and resident representatives at a Town Planning Board meeting on Tuesday morning.

The proposal to rezone at least 1.18 hectares of land into a site for 1,500 luxury flats on Lee Nam Road was highlighted in Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s policy address in 2013.

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A group of South Horizons residents will rally outside the Town Planning Board office in North Point before the meeting.

Of the 607 comments received during a public consultation that ended earlier this year, 98 per cent were against the change of land use, with most calling for the site to be turned into a waterfront promenade.

Architectural sector lawmaker-elect Edward Yiu Chung-yim slammed the government for proposing to make the site available for luxury housing despite the big population density on the island. He said the move failed to meet Planning Department standards and guidelines, which set out a minimum ratio for open space in various districts.

“This is a result of the government wanting to carry out a top-down instruction to increase housing supply,” Yiu said.

Ap Lei Chau needs another 4.15 hectares of open space to meet the minimum standard and will still be 2.83 hectares short after taking future plans into account, according to Yiu.

Southern district councillor Judy Chan Ka-pui, who is a member of the council’s development and housing committee, said all councillors basically opposed the plan.

“The population on this small island is already exploding,” Chan said. “We cannot afford to take in more.”

The 1.32 square kilometre island, home to 90,000 residents, has often been cited as being among the world’s top three most densely populated islands, yet it has just one road connecting it with Hong Kong Island through the Ap Lei Chau bridge, according to Chan.

She added that most residents were worried about worsening traffic conditions if the plan went ahead, adding that a minority would support the plan as it could potentially drive up property prices.

Despite the commissioning of the MTR South Island Line that will terminate in Ap Lei Chau, Chan believed traffic congestion would only be slightly reduced as the MTR would only use three-car trains on the line.