Hong Kong Disneyland a better bet for housing than East Lantau mega reclamation
- Disney keeps generating losses, and using that land for housing is safer for Hong Kong’s environment and budget than the proposed East Lantau project
After reading about the environmentally destructive East Lantau Metropolis proposal and the recently reported questionable use of prime idle land at Lantau’s Disneyland for a temporary Dutch flower garden, I believe we urgently need alternative solutions for Hong Kong’s worsening housing crisis.
Here’s a thought: if the loss-making Hong Kong Disneyland were dismantled tomorrow, and the resulting about 200 hectares of developable land in that area (both the existing theme park and vacant future expansion areas) were used for new housing of a similar density as Taikoo Shing, this waterfront land could easily supply flats for hundreds of thousands of residents, with an option of preserving the existing hotels in that area.
This building-ready site is already served by an MTR connection, road network, major utilities and a ferry terminal – all of which could be incrementally expanded and improved during a phased construction period.
Since the government is so keen on land reclamation, if the existing shoreline along that entire site were to be further reclaimed by another 200 metres, and with arguably fewer environmental consequences than the construction of a series of new islands in vulnerable marine habitats, the reclaimed waterfront land created could support an additional several thousand flats to ultimately form a walkable, lushly landscaped green community of close to half a million people within a decade – unlike the ambitious East Lantau Island project, which could take 20-30 years to complete while draining our fiscal reserves.
In 10 years’ time, the territory’s population growth estimates and corresponding land requirements could then be reassessed, which might even show that today’s forecasts and assumptions were not as accurate as once thought.
In terms of the loss of Hong Kong Disneyland, now that the city has a high-speed rail connection and mega-bridge link to the greater Pearl River Delta area, a new and improved “Mega-Disney” project could be simultaneously constructed just across the border within easy reach of Hong Kong residents – instead of the city continuing to cover regular financial losses made by the current underwhelming attraction.
Today’s unresolved dire housing situation will only result in escalating social instability and a continuing decline in our quality of life, in what is touted as an advanced “world city”. We need a quick fix. My vote: send the mouse packing and let’s get cracking!
T. Schmidt, Taikoo Shing