A GOVERNMENT plan to establish a new town at Luen Wo Hui in Fanling will be given a boost when the largest commercially zoned site in the New Territories is auctioned off on January 25, according to District Lands Officer Albert So. The 1.12-hectare site was recently rezoned from a parking lot to now include retail, commercial and parking facilities. It has a plot ratio of 9.5 and a gross floor area of about 1.15 million sq ft. Mr So said it would be up to the developer to determine just how much of the project would be designated for retail and commercial purposes. But government officials who outlined the possible scope of the development were optimistic about the prospects for the Fanling area. According to Mr So, a business leasing 20,000 sq ft on Hong Kong Island could be paying more than $2 million a month in rent and it could save millions by moving its operations to Luen Wo Hui. Mr So said the decision to auction off such a large piece of commercial property was part of the Government's strategy of providing office space in the New Territories and to alleviate pressure on Hong Kong's city area. 'Also, people living in Tai Po and Sheung Shui would also like to live and work here instead of going into the downtown area,' Mr So said. Government officials are expecting considerable interest from developers in the site. But, because this was an 'unusually large' commercial site to be developed, the Lands Department has written to developers telling them of the upcoming auction. 'This is to give potential bidders ample time to make the necessary plans for the auction,' Mr So said. He said the new town centre would be the focal point for rapidly expanding residential developments which were very close to the border. The Luen Wo Hui site is also close to a number of military sites which have been earmarked for residential development. Mr So noted that Fanling was about 12 km away from Yantian, a fast expanding container terminal just after the border.