THE Government plans to raze half the buildings in Shek O and redevelop the seaside village as a bustling centre more than three times its current size. The clearance will sweep away lines of flourishing restaurants and cafes operating along Shek O Road, including those facing the car park. Hundreds of ancestral graves on the hillside at Shek O headland and hundreds of scattered villas and huts, which have occupied Crown land for decades, are also to be cleared. The Tai Tam and Shek O Outline Zoning Plan, approved in 1989, calls for the clearance of restaurants and 100 stone huts to make way for a bus terminus and a car and coach parking area for the expected surge in tourists. The original car park will expand to include a children's playground, barbecue pits and beach facilities such as changing rooms and showers. The 1991 census estimated Shek O's population at 2,523 people living in 595 households. But Housing Department figures suggest 370 households - or 1,600 people - are living in quarters illegally built on Crown land. They were considered squatters and their homes would be cleared, a spokesman said. The plan aims to bulldoze more than half the existing establishments and estimates Shek O's population will reach 8,000 when fully redeveloped. 'Shek O was zoned as a low-density residential area,' said District Lands Office estate surveyor Kempis Lam Chi-ming. 'A maximum building height of three storeys will still be imposed to ensure future development is compatible with existing buildings,' Mr Lam said. 'The plan did not cover commercial interests such as restaurants or a supermarket. But individuals or the Urban Council could apply for a change of land use and it is subject to the Town Planning Board's approval.' Mr Lam said the Government had no timetable for the work and clearance would continue in stages according to the redevelopment plan. 'Those structures occupying areas which have been planned for development will be cleared first. Non-development clearance will be carried out by the Housing Department according to their own plan,' Mr Lam said. About 20 families living in stone huts and villas at the foothill of Shek O headland received notifications for clearance last month, and will have to leave their homes by April next year. 'The area covers 5,000 square metres. It has been zoned for low-density residential use and will be sold in land auction in the near future,' Mr Lam said.