Hong Kong cargo terminal can be scrapped to build 22,000 flats – ‘but only with land reclamation’
Advisers say site does have potential for housing but significant environmental and transport challenges remain
A cargo terminal in Tuen Mun can be redeveloped for housing – but only if a neighbouring bay undergoes land reclamation, a Hong Kong government advisory committee has said.
The Task Force on Land Supply on Tuesday agreed that the 65-hectare (161 acres) River Trade Terminal in Hong Kong’s northwest could be scrapped, since its 49 berths were underused and the port was only operating at 24 per cent capacity.
“The terminal only handles about 3 per cent of Hong Kong’s total container throughput, which means other ports or terminal facilities should be able to absorb its shipment volume. We believe it has considerable potential to be developed for other uses,” task force chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said, after the committee met on Tuesday.
However, some members of the task force said the site would be more suitable for industrial development since it was surrounded by a range of specialised industries, including an eco-recycling park, a steel mill, the airport’s aviation fuel facility and a power station.
“All these industrial uses will pose significant environmental challenges,” Wong said, citing air quality and noise pollution.
Nevertheless the site could be used to build some 22,000 flats, housing 60,000 people.
Another option the task force looked at earlier was land reclamation. One proposal was to reclaim 250 hectares at Lung Kwu Tan, an area adjacent to the terminal, for special industrial purposes.
If all industrial facilities next to the River Trade Terminal were relocated to the newly reclaimed area, which could take anywhere from 15 to 20 years, the 65-hectare site could be suitable for housing, the task force said.
“The opportunity would not just be about building flats within the River Trade Terminal site. We’re basically talking about an overall re-planning of that area of 240 hectares. It can open up a lot of different planning opportunities to use Tuen Mun West much better,” Wong said.
Even so, there would still be a number of significant environmental and transport infrastructure planning challenges to overcome.
Local district councillors have expressed concern that Tuen Mun Road, the district’s main artery, is already packed with vehicles and faces significant traffic congestion every day.
The West Rail Line, the only MTR line to the district, was also “overflowing” during peak hours, one said.
Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor appointed the task force last year. It has agreed with the government’s long-term development plan that predicted the city would need another 1,200 hectares of land – on top of its current supply – for future development.
After discussing 17 proposals to expand land supply, ranging from developing the city’s protected country parks to using idle private land in the New Territories, the task force will start public consultations on each proposal from next month.