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Hong Kong housing

Why Our Hong Kong Foundation’s new East Lantau plan is premature: where are the enhanced transport links?

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 5:30am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 August, 2018, 9:17am

On August 7, Our Hong Kong Foundation published a research report titled “Re-imagining Hong Kong with a Game-Changer: Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis”, proposing a 2,200 hectare reclamation (“half the size of Kowloon”) in the waters between Hong Kong Island and Lantau.

This could be considered, by some, to be an imaginative approach to establish a “new city that can accommodate a population of up to 0.7-1.1 million people, as well as house new industries and recreational facilities”.

The man-made island would have three road connections, including one to Kennedy Town, and three railway connections, to Kennedy Town, Mei Foo and the future Tuen Mun South station, but it would appear that no consideration has been given as to how these transport links would connect with existing infrastructure. Few from the Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis will wish to terminate their journeys in Kennedy Town or Mei Foo.

On Hong Kong Island, the current limited spare transport capacity along the north shore will be absorbed by the 11,900 additional housing units forming part of the Wah Fu Estate redevelopment. There is thus no spare capacity for those of the 1 million people on the Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis who would need to travel to Hong Kong Island.

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The road corridor past the Macau ferry pier was identified 20 years ago as a future bottleneck for which no practical solution has been identified; likewise the western section of the MTR Island Line will not be able to accommodate passengers from the much smaller East Lantau Metropolis, let alone the “enhanced” version. Is a massive reclamation in the harbour from Kennedy Town to Wan Chai to accommodate additional transport links a necessary part of the Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis?

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Passengers using the rail tunnel to Mei Foo, and apparently terminating there, will have a similar problem of no spare capacity on existing transport links to take them to their desired destinations, unless there is a massive increase of the transport infrastructure in Kowloon and the New Territories.

Without a confirmation that such infrastructure is feasible and affordable, it is premature for Our Hong Kong Foundation to put forward such a plan for the Enhanced East Lantau Metropolis. Professional planning, including transport planning, is necessary to have their proposal considered seriously.

In the past, the government works branch established a procedure for the preliminary feasibility of a project to be confirmed before proceeding. Is this procedure being followed by the current administration?

Ronald Taylor, Pok Fu Lam