Hong Kong population of new Kai Tak development area to increase by almost 30 per cent

Government is also proposing park to house Song Dynasty cultural relics found in the area

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 8:12pm
UPDATED : Monday, 17 October, 2016, 10:56pm

The population of the new Kai Tak development area will increase by almost 30 per cent, according to the latest government proposal to further relax the site’s development density.

The government also proposed to rezone part of a planned road, a government site and a commercial area to public open space to create a heritage park, where ancient relics including old wells and coins discovered in a previous excavation will be displayed.

Housing boost: Hong Kong’s Kai Tak development area to get 11,000 additional private flats

Following the latest review of the 320-hectare site in East Kowloon – the home of the former Kai Tak airport – the government suggested increasing the total number of flats by 28 per cent to 49,900 to house 134,000 residents, compared to a population of 105,000 in the original plan approved in 2007.

This will be achieved by rezoning four sites – including three earmarked for hotels – for housing, as well as increasing the plot ratio for 15 out of 29 sites by up to 44 per cent from 4.5 to 5 times to 6.5 times.

But a Planning Department spokesman said the public-private ratio for the additional flats remained undecided.

He said the government would submit the revised plan to the Town Planning Board on Friday and if the board approved it, the government would make a final decision after consulting district councils and the Harbourfront Commission.

Under the plan, one hectare of land next to Sung Wong Toi Park, where a series of relics dating back to the Song Dynasty (960-1279) were discovered, will be reserved as a heritage park to preserve the artefacts, which are deemed of high archaeological value.

Scheme to build more flats at Kai Tak must be run by us first, Hong Kong planning experts say

Kowloon City district councillor Yeung Chun-yu of the Association for Democracy and People’s Livelihood worried that the higher density and extra population would worsen Kai Tak’s traffic situation, especially when the new Central Kowloon Route is not expected to open until 2023.

Yeung said several housing sites with a relaxed density were accessible only through a single road. He added that there was a lack of bus or tram connections between different housing sites and the Kai Tak MTR station, which is expected to open in 2019.

Yeung also urged the government to reserve at least 70 per cent of the extra flats for public housing.

“Relaxing the plot ratio is one of the ways to increase land supply, but who will the extra flats be for?” Yeung said. “If the flats are still not affordable, it will not solve the problem.”

Dr Ng Cho-nam, associate professor of geography at the University of Hong Kong and a Harbourfront Commission member, said increasing development density might not necessarily affect the harbourfront view. He said urban design and ventilation would be key factors.

“Kai Tak is located downtown and it is reasonable for it to have a higher development density,” Ng said.

Ng also welcomed the heritage park, saying it would not only preserve relics, but also create a green ventilation corridor for the development area.