Redevelopment of iconic Hong Kong public housing estate wins approval but on condition of MTR line extension
Southern District council members agree to proposal
Plans to redevelop one of Hong Kong’s oldest and most iconic public housing estates in Pok Fu Lam have cleared their first hurdle but on condition the authorities expedite building an MTR extension to the area.
After a three-hour debate, Southern District council members agreed to the proposal for Wah Fu Estate, but insisted the government “immediately start planning” for a railway line to connect to the area.
In all, the project would provide a total of 21,000 flats, housing a population of 61,000 – a net increase of about 35,000 residents.
First announced in the chief executive’s 2014 policy address, the project would redevelop the 50-year-old estate of some 26,000 residents and include building 11,900 public housing flats to resettle existing Wah Fu residents by 2025 at the earliest in five adjacent government sites.
Most of the district councillors who supported the project said progress could no longer be delayed after three years of deliberations between residents and the government.
“There are already more than 300,000 people waiting to get into public housing [in the city],” council vice-chairman Chan Fu-ming said. “Though the plan is not perfect, we hope the government can soon address our concerns as we move forward.”
After public consultations with residents, the total amount of land for the development has been reduced by one third to 13 hectares.
Located on the southwestern tip of Hong Kong Island with unobstructed sea views, the estate was considered luxurious in the 1960s when many in the city were living in squatter camps. It was the first estate to provide a range of facilities, such as its own public library and market, with the aim of establishing a self-contained community.
In 2014, the government announced it had preliminary plans to extend a section of the South Island Line to the western part of the island, which would reach Wah Fu, as well as neighbouring Aberdeen and Cyberport by connecting it to recently built Wong Chuk Hang and HKU stations.
The government has yet to move forward with any actual plans since then.
“It took nine years for the eastern extension of the South Island Line from the government’s approval to its first day of service,” council chairman Chu Ching-hong said. “The western extension is considered even more technically complex, so it might be even longer than 10 years before we would be able to use it.”
District councillors demanded that the government start planning procedures for the MTR line.
However, the Housing Department said the implementation of the MTR extension, including its exact route, stations and timetable, hinged on the estate’s redevelopment plans.
For the redevelopment plans to proceed, the government would have to submit applications to the Town Planning Board for land use rezoning for the five sites and then submit plans to the Legislative Council for approval and funding by 2019.