Easier to move people than factories, storage association head says, weighing in on housing controversy

Difficult to develop brownfields as some industrial operations at these sites can be operated only on ground floor

PUBLISHED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 12:22pm
UPDATED : Friday, 23 September, 2016, 4:15pm

It is easier to relocate residents to free up land for development than to move container yards and recycling factories, said the chairman of an open storage operator association, weighing in on an ongoing housing controversy.

The government is under scrutiny for scaling down a plan to build 17,000 public housing flats on a 33-hectare brownfield site in Wang Chau, Yuen Long, to building only 4,000 flats on a nearby 5.6-hectare greenbelt site, displacing three non-indigenous villages.

Brownfield sites are agricultural land in rural parts of the New Territories occupied by various industrial operations, while greenbelt ones are heavily vegetated areas under stricter planning rules.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying and his top officials have denied bowing to pressure from rural leaders with vested interests when deciding on this change.

Tang Kwan-shing, chairman of the Association of the New Territories Open Storage Operators Limited, said on a radio programme that there was difficulty in developing brownfields as container yards and recycling factories at these sites had to be operated on the ground floor.

“For example, some have heavy-duty machinery that cannot be moved to upper floors,” he said.

In comparison, Tang said, it was easier to relocate people.

While recognising that the latter also presented difficulties, he pointed out that with the current housing situation in Hong Kong, including issues such as high prices, “the sacrifice of certain individuals for the general good” was needed.

Tang added that indigenous villages with a long history should be preserved, while those with lower importance could be relocated.