An ambitious proposal for a 9,500-flat private residential development on a converted piece of farmland in Hong Kong’s countryside area of Sai Kung has been given the go-ahead by the Planning Department.
Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) had revised its original plan for the mega project to almost double the number of flats while slashing unit sizes by close to 40 per cent, and submitted an application for the changes to the Town Planning Board last year.
The application is expected to be presented for discussion at the Town Planning Board’s rural and new town planning committee meeting on Friday.
A paper for members’ reference stated that “the Planning Department has no objection to the application”, although it listed some conditions for the developers.
Among the major conditions are a plan for road improvement work in the neighbourhood and provision of two public transport interchanges.
SHKP was also asked to submit an environmental assessment report and proposals on tree preservation and planning for approval by the board and relevant government departments.
With the nod already given by the Planning Department, the committee is widely expected to endorse the project at Friday’s meeting.
The project covers a site area of about 74.8 hectares in Shap Sze Heung off Sai Sha Road in Sai Kung.
SHKP, one of the city’s largest owners of farmland, had originally planned to build 4,730 apartment units in 31 blocks of villas, with a sports ground and shopping centre.
It applied last year to the Town Planning Board to expand its plan, seeking to increase the gross floor area of the site to 5.8 million square feet from 4.83 million, allowing it to build 9,500 flats.
The developer also applied to build higher-rise blocks of 31 residential storeys, up from the original 24.
The flat size would also be cut by about 38 per cent to about 610 sq ft, down from 1,000 sq ft gross in the original plan.
Some property analysts have estimated the project could be worth as much as HK$80 billion (US$10.2 billion) once developed.
Wong Leung-sing, associate director at property agency group Centaline, said the project could boost the supply of new homes in Hong Kong once developed but expressed concerns about possible pressure on the road networks in the neighbourhood.
There is a government project under way to widen Sai Sha Road, where the site is located.
“That is something the Town Planning Board should not take too lightly,” Wong said. “Imagine some 9,000-plus families going in and out of the area every day.”
Environmentalist Roy Tam of Green Sense said it was shocking that SHKP’s application could get approval from the Planning Department.
“One can’t help thinking the government’s [authorisation of] road-widening work is for the sake of the SHKP project there,” he said.
Tam added: “I am not too sure if the project could really benefit lay Hong Kong buyers. They will be luxury flats only the rich can afford.”
SHKP has previous experience with projects involving almost 10,000 units, including the Yoho Town development in Yuen Long that began in 2000 and the City One development in Sha Tin in the 1970s and 1980s.
This article Mega project for 9,500 private flats in Sai Kung given go-ahead by Hong Kong Planning Department first appeared on South China Morning Post