Residents of a sleepy Clear Water Bay village could lose road access to their homes if they fail to make "maintenance payments" to a local landlord by the end of this week. The landowner erected a barrier gate across a decades-old road running through a private lot last Tuesday and has demanded payment from residents in return for vehicular access. In an area where 2,100 sq ft houses start at HK$20 million, a group of distressed expatriate and Chinese residents said the landowner's demands were tantamount to blackmail. "It is ridiculous. How can the authorities grant this?" said famed film producer Willie Chan Chi-keung, whose home is affected by the potential road closure. Chan, who made his name as manager of kung fu star Jackie Chan, represents one of more than 30 households tucked away in a corner of coastal Siu Hang Hau village, which last month received a notice demanding some HK$7,200, plus a further HK$6,300 for an electronic gate control fob. He was told the payment is due by January 16. Residents fear the lack of terms and conditions could see the initial payment turn into an annual fee. The notices were signed by members of the Lau clan - local landowners with village roots reportedly going back 500 years - who last August acquired a tract of land from Fixed Star Investments for HK$700,000, according to public records. The dispute is the latest to reflect poor or archaic planning policy involving the private land rights of indigenous villagers and the public right of way. Last year, indigenous villagers blocked a footpath over private land leading to an ecologically important bay on the north side of Lantau Island. They later razed a mangrove in protest against a government zoning plan. Indigenous residents in Sai Wan village in east Sai Kung also blocked a hiking path into their village in 2013 to protest the folding of Tai Long Sai Wan into a country park - a move they believed would undermine their private property rights. The privately owned lot near Clear Water Bay is located awkwardly over a tiny section of Siu Hang Hau Road, which residents say has provided access into the village since the late 1980s. The lot and the section of road, however, are also located in land zoned as a conservation area, according to public records. As a result, residents argued during a planning meeting on Tuesday night that it should not be built on and, even if privately owned, decades of unhindered road usage should afford right of access. A source with the Sai Kung District Office said the office had been notified and would do what it could to mediate between the affected parties. But the source said since the lot was private, there was little that could actually be done if the owner wanted to restrict vehicular access. The Lands Department said it would conduct a site inspection. The Planning Department is investigating. Worried residents, many speaking anonymously amid fear of reprisals, said they were victims of a long-running cycle of violence and harassment by indigenous villagers, including slashed car tyres and scratched paintwork, destroyed or stolen property, extorted pay-offs against contractors renovating properties and verbal threats made to women and children. They fear that if they pay, it will only lead to more demands in the future. Villagers also say they have nowhere else to park their cars, and raised concerns about emergency vehicle access, as well as food and mail deliveries. One disabled resident currently needs a door-to-door taxi service to attend medical appointments. Several residents said the Laus recently had an application to build in the lot rejected by the Planning Department and suspected they were now using homeowners as leverage to persuade the government to reverse its decision. The Laus are angry that people refused to pay them car-parking fees, said district councillor Paul Zimmerman, who was at the meeting. He said the barrier was a way for them to recoup losses. Several residents said they had refused to pay the Laus any money to park their cars, because that land belonged to the government. "They put their hands to your neck," said district councillor Christine Fong Kwok-shan, who also attended Tuesday's meeting. Fong, who said she had spoken to the Laus in the past, urged residents not to pay. Instead, homeowners plan to file an injunction against the Laus pleading "right of necessity" and historical precedence for use of the road. She called on the Lands Department to review the issue. A spokesman for the lot owner confirmed that the barrier gate - which is currently open - would close on Friday, but denied allegations of "blackmail". He said the landowner built the gate due to security concerns and to protect fellow indigenous villagers. "As you know, burglaries have recently been [happening] in the Clear Water Bay area and we are doing this to protect the entire village," said the spokesman, also surnamed Lau. "The money is for upkeep and maintenance." Lau said the villagers were welcome to contact him, and added that if they had any problems with the gate, "they can always move out of the area". He said there were government-owned footpaths that they could use to pass through. "Anybody who buys property in an area should always inspect land records to see if there is private land around their house as this is bound to cause many, many problems," Lau said. "This is all public information."