THE Mass Transit Railway Corp (MTRC) is set to announce plans in the next few weeks for a huge property development at its Siu Ho Wan train depot on Lantau Island. Based on market conditions, the development would yield about nine million square feet of space and entail an investment of about $60 billion. Sketch plans have been done and key sourcing needs identified in the MTRC proposal to build 30 apartment towers with more than 7,200 flats, as well as retail and leisure facilities. The MTRC has been assured the new development is not on the flight path to Chek Lap Kok airport, which will allow the towers to be as high as feasibly possible, although 30 storeys is likely to be the limit. The project would be the MTRC's biggest residential property undertaking since the Kornhill development in Quarry Bay in 1985. Plans are for enclosing the train depot and its several hectares of marshalling yards in a concrete box. The housing blocks will then be built on top. The MTRC believes the development will appeal to airline and other staff working at Chek Lap Kok airport once it opens next year. There will be direct road links to the North Lantau Expressway and a shuttle bus service will run to Tung Chung. Unlike many property developments built above MTR stations, the Siu Ho Wan scheme will not include a connection to the railway system. The MTRC is planning to develop the complex on its own, rather than selling the site off in development packages, as it did on the Airport Railway. This could be partly for security and operational reasons, as most construction will be above a train depot serving the airport railway line and Lantau commuter route. Work at Siu Ho Wan is expected to get under way next year as the Airport and Lantau railway becomes operational. Design work and preparing the depot site could take two years, so construction of the towers is not likely to begin until 2000 at least. The first homes could go on sale in 2001 or 2002 by which time the Government is expected to have prepared a plan outlining the development pattern for the entire northern coast of Lantau Island.