Taking forward Lantau Development with collective wisdom
Since its establishment early this year, the Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LanDAC) has already conducted several meetings, site visits and exchanges with the community. Last month, it agreed to take forward the development of Lantau through short-, medium- and long-term measures, including conducting major strategic studies and short-term topical studies, carrying out local improvement works, and rolling out public and community engagement exercises. The above studies are expected to be completed in phases from 2016 onwards, which will provide a solid basis for reference and policy making for the optimal use of this piece of treasured land.
While I have previously mentioned the potential of Lantau in my Blog, it is still facing many development constraints, such as its steep terrain, the geological weakness like the “sandwich biscuit” caused by changes in the earth’s crust and different degrees of weathering in the past, scarce coastal flat land, height restrictions and noise problems due to the flight paths, height- and visual-restrictions associated with the theme park, etc. Also, during the planning stages, consideration should be given to Lantau’s rich land and marine ecosystems, its natural environment, local environment of the rural villages as well as transport facilities.
So far, members of the LanDAC and the public have submitted 109 proposals. Their views are crucial to the formulation of the strategic positioning and future development direction of Lantau. We have consolidated all these proposals and grouped them into five broad categories, namely "development planning issues", "tourism and recreation", "environment and heritage conservation", "transport and improvement proposals" and "employment, education and social welfare".
Of particular interest among the numerous projects are the reclamation for the artificial islands in the central waters and the topside development on the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities (BCF) Island of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge (HZMB). As regards the artificial islands in the central waters, we have submitted funding application to the Public Works Subcommittee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) for conducting strategic studies. However, owing to the delay caused by the unco-operative movement in LegCo, and the priority thus given to other works projects with a more urgent need for funding, we have withdrawn the application. Nevertheless, for the overall public interest and the development needs of Hong Kong in future, the studies for artificial islands should not be delayed any longer, and we will review the proposal and re-submit the funding application as soon as possible. For the BCF island of the HZMB, once funding is approved by the Finance Committee of the LegCo, we will commence the planning, engineering and architectural studies for the topside commercial development and the development of other economic activities on the island, which are instrumental in supporting the development along the north shore of Lantau and creating job opportunities.
To expedite the work, the LanDAC has established four subcommittees, which hold in-depth discussions and promote work regarding planning and conservation, economic and social development, traffic and transport, public relations and engagement respectively. Meanwhile, the LanDAC has set four strategic positioning goals for development of Lantau into: (1) an international transport, logistics and trade hub in the Greater Pearl River Delta (PRD) region; (2) a service hub in the Greater PRD region and Asia; (3) a strategic growth area with a new metropolis; and (4) a treasure of natural assets.
The development directions for different parts of Lantau are generally defined as: (1) a Northern Lantau Corridor for economic and housing developments; (2) a North-eastern Lantau Node for leisure, entertainment and international tourism; (3) an East Lantau Metropolis in the central waters as a new development area and the third core business district in Hong Kong; and (4) predominant part of Lantau for conservation, leisure, cultural development and green tourism.
Furthermore, several large-scale planning studies for Lantau are in progress or about to commence, including the extension of Tung Chung New Town, reclamation at Sunny Bay and Siu Ho Wan. To achieve a comprehensive and balanced development, the Planning Department will conduct a consolidated economic land use analysis to facilitate the formulation of proposals for spatial/sectoral development and conservation. For the rest of Lantau, we will commence a number of short-term topical studies, for example, formulation of a recreation and tourism development strategy for Lantau, the development of spa and resort facilities in Cheung Sha and Tai A Chau on the Soko Islands, as well as the feasibility of extending Ngong Ping 360 to Tai O. We will also carry out several local improvement projects in phases, including the revitalisation of Tai O, Mui Wo and Ma Wan Chung; the construction of mountain bike trail networks, improvement of sections of narrow road bends along Keung Shan Road and South Lantau Road, and review of the arrangements for closed roads and issuance of closed road permits for Lantau.
As we enter a new year, Lantau is expected to take on a new look over time. For now, the LanDAC has already mapped out an initial work plan. We hope that you all will join us in our efforts to explore the optimal use of the land as well as the natural and cultural resources in Lantau for the long-term benefits of Hong Kong as a whole. Please visit the LanDAC’s website at http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/boards_and_committees/landac/index.html for more information on Lantau development.
21 December, 2014