Henderson Land Development beat eight other major developers to the first block of Crown land put up for sale for this financial year, paying $535 million for a Tai Po luxury residential site. The price, at the high end of expectations, gave a lift to property stocks and helped to pull the Hang Seng Index back from a loss of 40 points in morning trading, closing the day 1.1 points higher at 11,166.77. The second site, a 2,971 square foot residential lot on Shek O headland, went for $17 million to Sino Land's Ng family, which was undaunted by Shek O villagers' protest against outsiders' entry into their neighbourhood. About 150 villagers, clad in yellow protest shirts, converged on the Cultural Centre to stare down the developers silently. Residents of the 300-year-old village said they were outraged because neither residents' associations nor the district board were consulted about the sale of land. The Lands Department maintains there are no plans for further land sales in Shek O, but some residents said they had received notifications of clearance. 'About 13 families living in the snail-shaped fung shui area have received notification to move out before April 30 next year,' said villager Lee Choi-ha, 34. Robert Ng Chee Siong, chairman of Sino Land, said he would build a luxury, detached house costing $50 million on the site he bought. It will be offered for lease. The Shek O Residents' Association said it would examine clan records to challenge the Government over the ownership of village land. The bullish sale of the Tai Po site reflected developers' confidence in the market. Henderson executive director Martin Lee Ka-shing said the company would build 90 low-rise luxury flats from 1,800 to 2,000 sqare feet on the site, at a total cost of $700 million. The auction price translated into an accommodation value of $2,930 per square foot, and the selling prices of finished units would be up to $5,000 per square foot. The price paid for yesterday's site was 32.8 per cent higher than that of an adjacent block bought by Henderson last year. Paul Tam Ming-tak, chief estate officer of the Lands Department, said the aggressive bidding reflected developers' confidence in the low density residential sector.