Town planners will today begin hearing comments on draft zoning plans for three country park enclaves in the first of four scheduled meetings over a month.
The plans are expected to face opposition from both villagers and green groups.
At the heart of the debate is whether the village-type development zones, or V zones, in So Lo Pun in Sha Tau Kok and Pak Lap and Hoi Ha in Sai Kung are "insufficient" or "excessive".
Village representatives will present their views to the Town Planning Board today while green groups will meet the board later next month.
Most indigenous villagers are expected to oppose the plans on the grounds that the V zones are insufficient to meet future demand for small houses.
Indigenous villagers believe they have the right to build small houses on private land. They have vehemently opposed any plans to incorporate the enclaves into surrounding country parks.
Green groups will also make a last-ditch effort to vote down the plans, which they believe will only pave the way to environmental destruction.
They want the ecologically sensitive enclaves to be folded into parks as the zoning plans fail to properly protect them from unauthorised building.
"Town planning rules cannot ensure the private lands [within the enclaves] are not subject to destruction," WWF Hong Kong's senior programme head Dr Michael Lau Wai-neng said. "It will affect the sensitive ecology in the surrounding parks."
The board forecasts small-house demand in So Lo Pun, Pak Lap and Hoi Ha to grow to 270, 79 and 84, respectively, in the next decade. It expects So Lo Pun's population to grow from virtually zero to 1,000, and Hoi Ha's from 100 to 600.
Civic Party lawmaker Kenneth Chan Ka-lok criticised the board for lacking mechanisms to show how accurate these forecasts were. He said it was hard to believe the population in some of these enclaves would grow so significantly in just 10 years.
Most of the roughly 10,000 representations filed to the board for each enclave oppose the plans on the basis of excessive V zones. The rest oppose the plans for delineating insufficient V zones. Only four support the draft for Hoi Ha and just one supports the Pak Lap draft.
The government is in the process of drawing up zoning plans for 54 enclaves, half of which are slated to be protected by land-use zoning and the rest possibly folded into parks.