The government will develop two controversial new town extensions in the northern New Territories at a cost of nearly HK$120 billion after finalising land use plans.
Announcing the final town planning proposals yesterday for the North East New Territories New Development Areas, Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said the government will develop Kwu Tung North and Fanling North but will postpone development of Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling for the time being.
Involving a total of 614 hectares of land in the two development areas, new residential, commercial and recreational areas will be developed for a combined population of 174,900 people living in 60,700 flats.
In particular the population and the quantity of flats were increased by 30.5 percent and 28.3 percent respectively, thanks to an increase in plot ratios.
To deflect criticism that it is looking after the private developers, the government has relented and increased the proportion of public housing units such that the ratio of public to private units is 60:40.
Contractors can look forward to a construction bonanza in the northern New Territories for at least a decade as the government plans to spend HK$41 billion on basic infrastructure and HK$48 billion on public facilities such as public rental housing.
Another HK$30 billion has been earmarked for land resumption.
This expenditure, however, does not include investment by private developers such as Henderson Land (0012) and New World Development (0017) as they extensive land banks in the area.
In a concession to developers, the government said it would allow insitu land exchanges for developers who own land in the two development areas subject to four conditions, the chief of among which was that the land must be in a residential or commercial zoning and that the area of land must be over 4,000 square metres.
“We don’t want to see pencil buildings or chopstick buildings appear on irregular shaped land,” Chan said.
The other conditions were developers had to adhere to the government’s development schedule and compensation to tenants and occupiers must be comparable to government compensation schemes.
Developers would not be allowed to drag out the land premium negotiations because if the premium is not agreed within a certain time, the government will resume the land regardless.
According to the government, only about 48 hectares of land meet the conditions for insitu land exchange.Chan said allowing land exchanges was nothing new as it was used in previous New Town development such as Tsuen Wan Centre in Tsuen Wan and Union Plaza in Fanling.
He denied the government was looking after the interests of developers, saying that at least 70 percent, if not more, of privately held land is earmarked for land resumption anyway.
Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling will undergo a planning rethink later in conjunction with planning proposals for the former restricted areas close to the mainland border.
“Very honestly, at Ping Che, the transport and other infrastructure there has restricted its development scope and potential,” Chan said.
The plans for Kwu Tung North show a proposed Kwu Tung Station for the MTR Corporation’s (0066) Lok Ma Chau Spur Line.
The government plans to amend the statutory outline zoning plans in second half of this year to allow the project to proceed.
Detailed design for advanced works packages will begin in 2014 and construction will start in 2018 with progressive completion thereafter to allow for the first population intake from 2023.
The two development areas are scheduled for completion by 2031.