Consortium again loses bid to build on Nam Sang Wai wetland

Latest proposal failed to meet principles to protect fish ponds in Deep Bay, says board

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 3:46am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 February, 2014, 4:34am

A development consortium's plan to build flats on the controversial Nam Sang Wai wetland in Yuen Long has again failed to get past the government's town planning advisers.

The proposal did not meet the planning principles of not losing any wetland to the development and of minimal filling of fish ponds in Deep Bay, the Town Planning Board said yesterday.

"They also failed to provide sufficient evidence that their mitigation plans could achieve ecological enhancement as they claim," a spokeswoman for the board said.

The consortium, a joint venture between Nam Sang Wai Development and Kleener Investment, had sought a review of its revised development plan after the board dismissed it last year.

With the latest rejection, it is still too early to tell if the 120 hectares of wetland will be safe from development, as the consortium has room to bring its case to the Town Planning Appeal Board, which comprises members outside the board, or to seek a further review directly from the courts.

"It is well known that the developer loves to argue about procedural matters in court," said Roy Ng Hei-man, a campaigner from green group Conservancy Association.

"I hope the government can intervene by transferring the development rights of the developer to somewhere else and give real peace to the site."

The wetland spans a number of abandoned fish ponds between Kam Tin River and Shan Pui River, and is also home to the city's largest reed bed. But the developer said the site could degrade if left idle. If developed, however, its ecological function could be further enhanced, the consortium claimed, proposing to set up a wetland reserve north of the development.

The rejected plan is the second filed by the current landowners - Henderson Land Development and the prominent Fu family led by Adrian Fu.

In 1996, a Henderson-led consortium received board approval for its plan to build 2,250 flats and a nine-hole golf course, but did not meet planning conditions.

In 2011, the consortium failed to get board approval to extend its development deadlines. Later, it was also unable to get the board to review that decision. It is challenging the decision in court.

Soon after the 2011 rejection, the Fu family took over and filed another development proposal that aimed to build 1,600 flats. The board rejected it last year.