A government-appointed task force agreed on Tuesday that partially developing an exclusive golf course in Fanling would be a quicker way to provide much-needed land to solve Hong Kong’s housing crisis, compared to developing the whole course.
The committee’s opinion came after critics accused the government of lowballing the number of flats that could be built on the 170-hectare course and attempting to “mislead” the public into favouring the partial development plan.
The task force, in charge of discussing options to increase land supply, decided to put up both partial and full development plans up for consultation, chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said.
But Wong said the committee would not consult the public on a proposal to develop 19 military sites for housing, after the government made it clear that it did not intend to change the use of these sites.
“We are competing with time,” Wong said after the Tuesday meeting. “We are facing a very severe land problem … We hope the public can discuss some practical options objectively and rationally.”
The golf course is leased to the Hong Kong Golf Club by the Home Affairs Bureau until August 2020. It is understood that both home affairs and development ministers promised task force members at the meeting that the government would not renew the lease until the results of the public consultation are out.
The government’s consultancy report on developing the exclusive golf course suggested to either develop a 32-hectare eastern part of the course into some 5,000 flats, or develop the whole course for 13,000 flats.
Wong said the task force believed developing the whole course would take a relatively long time, because it would involve many technical studies on how to preserve old trees and historic buildings, as well as how to widen the main road access to the course, which would affect the city’s main water supply pipes.
But he said this option, together with the partial development plan, would be put up for public consultation.
Members of the public has said the full development plan’s density was too low.
Wong said the committee found this density was comparable to those of nearby new towns such as Kwu Tung North and Fanling North in the North District.
Wong added that if the public favoured the full development plan, the government could further study if it could increase the development density.
Government estimate of how many houses could be built on exclusive Hong Kong golf course ‘is reasonable’
“Personally, I believe the density can be further increased,” Wong said.
At the meeting, members also questioned government representatives about developing the 19 military sites, Wong said.
He said the government made it clear that all the sites are for defence purposes and there was no site left idle, and it had no plan to change the use of the sites.
“We believe that there is nothing we can discuss further about this proposal as an option, so we will not consult the public on this,” Wong said.
The golf course is one of 67 sites leased for private recreational purposes. These sites comprise 400 hectares of land in total.
The Home Affairs Bureau is in the process of reviewing these sites and is expected to launch a six-month public consultation on the review findings.
Wong said the task force hoped the government could release some of the sites for development if these sites could not achieve their full recreational and sports potential.
The committee also discussed the development potential of 95 government recreational facilities. Wong said some of them were more than three hectares and could be considered for development. For example, he said, a 12.5-hectare site in Tuen Mun included a golf practising field, an archery field, a park and a large swimming pool. He said these facilities could be moved into a building to release the rest of the land for development.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor appointed the Task Force on Land Supply in August last year to discuss 12 proposals in increasing supply.