No policy change in development involving squatter areas in Hong Kong’s New Territories
I refer to your article, “Hong Kong squatters may be spared eviction by housing scheme” (May 21). I am writing to clarify that there is no policy change insofar as the planning of developments for areas involving squatter settlements is concerned
In planning and taking forward public projects, including those for new development areas, we are mindful of the expectation of minimising the impact on existing residents. This, however, does not mean that areas with existing settlements, whether indigenous villages or non-indigenous squatter settlements, must be avoided.
Where removal of existing settlements is considered necessary to facilitate gainful use of our scarce land resources in the public interest, subject to the town planning and other statutory procedures, eligible residents will be entitled to proper compensation and rehousing arrangements in accordance with the prevailing policy.
Indeed, we released on May 10 an improved compensation and rehousing package for eligible occupants in squatter settlements which are going to be cleared to make way for public projects.
The preliminary feasibility study on developing New Territories North (NTN Study) has broadly examined the development potential of the area and proposed, among others, the urban-rural-nature integration approach, which aims at preserving rural and natural features where possible and integrating them with the new communities in the New Territories North.
Yet, how to take forward the NTN Study, including the conceptual proposals contained therein, hinges on the final recommendations of Hong Kong 2030 Plus and the detailed planning and engineering feasibility study to be carried out.
The proposed approach of urban-rural-nature integration does not preclude the clearance of squatter settlements in the area.
Mr Liu Chun-san, under secretary, Development Bureau