Road - Sham Tseng
Copyright © 2003. South China Morning
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Thursday May 29 2003
Greens hail shelving of reclamation
by Chloe Lai
It will bring long-term benefits for the property
market, says Centaline chief
Environmentalists yesterday welcomed government moves to
stall three major reclamation projects.
'Finally the government is starting to make sense by cutting
down on all the reclamation work,' said Winston Chu Ka-sun,
chairman of the Society for the Protection of the Harbour.
Mr Chu, who has sought a judicial review to challenge the
government's decision to reclaim 26 hectares of land on the
Wan Chai harbour front, said the Sars outbreak had helped
the administration recognise the importance of the environment.
The vice-chairwoman of the Conservancy Association, Betty
Ho Siu-fong said she was glad the coastline of Western District,
Tsuen Wan Bay and Sham Tseng had been spared.
'The other two projects did not gain as much attention as
the one at the Western District, but I am happy to learn all
the three will be put on hold,' she said.
The veteran town planner said she was not always opposed
'It depends on its impact to the environment and it also
depends on the planning work involved, because reclamation
does have the effect of creating more land and space for a
community,' Ms Ho said.
'The problem of reclamation in Hong Kong is that it always
involves the reclaiming of land for the construction of high-rise
buildings and the planning usually fails to integrate the
original community with the new land.'
Ms Ho said the southeast Kowloon project was an example of
a reclamation project being essential to improving the environment
of the area, given the polluted state of the nullah around
the old Kai Tak airport.
The South China Morning Post reported yesterday that the
government has decided to put on hold the three projects amid
the sluggish property market and record budget deficit.
The projects were scheduled to create 126 hectares of land
to provide housing for 114,000 people. The Western District
work aroused the most attention, with residents keen to protect
views of Victoria Harbour.
Meanwhile, the chairman of Centaline Property Agency, Shih
Wing-ching, said the decision would have a positive impact
on the property market within five years.
'One of the problems now is the imbalance between demand
and supply,' Mr Shih said.
'We are facing a serious oversupply of flats.'
Property prices have dropped by more than 60 per cent since
their peak in 1997.
The number of vacant flats flooding the market has reached
Wednesday May 28 2003
Reclamation schemes put on hold
by Chloe Lai
Three reclamation projects have been put on hold by the government
amid the sluggish property market and record budget deficit.
The projects affected are the Western District Development
Scheme, the Tsuen Wan Bay reclamation works and the Sham Tseng
project. The plans involved creating 126 hectares to provide
housing for 114,000 people.
A government official said the administration did not now
believe Hong Kong would need the extra land because the growth
in population had slowed. The budget deficit - which is expected
to reach $67.9 million for this financial year - and the flagging
property market were the other reasons to put the projects
'Even if we need land resources in the future for accommodation,
we still have plenty in the new towns, such as Kwu Tung and
Hung Shui Kui in the north New Territories,' the official
According to the government's forecast, Hong Kong's population,
which currently stands at 6.7 million, will grow to only 8.7
million by 2031 because of a low birth rate and an increasing
number of people moving back to the mainland.
On Monday, plans to build a $4.9 billion headquarters for
the government on the Tamar site were shelved to allow the
administration time to review its priorities in the wake of
It is also believed the proposed Tseung Kwan O reclamation
works for the construction of an artificial island for water
sports will be abandoned.
And a major reclamation project in Wan Chai is the subject
of a court challenge by the Society for the Protection of
The only major reclamation project still due to go ahead
is the Southeast Kowloon development at the old Kai Tak airport.
A spokeswoman for the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau
said: 'The government is conducting a review of long-term
housing and land supply, therefore it has no timetable on
when to commence the reclamation projects.'
The Planning Department said that minor projects, such as
one on Lamma to reclaim a hectare of land for building facilities,
will go on.
Among the projects being put on hold, the Western District
Development Scheme is the most controversial, with green groups
having opposed the idea for years.
Under the plan, 79 hectares of land would be reclaimed off
Kennedy Town to house 70,000 people.
Twenty-nine hectares of land would be reclaimed in Tsuen
Wan to create homes for 30,000 people, and 18 hectares
were intended to be formed at Sham Tseng waterfront to house