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SDEV speaks on Ho Tung Gardens

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at a media session today (October 24) on the declaration of Ho Tung Gardens as monument:

Reporter: Can you elaborate a bit about the land exchange proposal? Can you explain why your views differ from the owner? Why do you think it is a feasible plan? Why do you think it is workable?

Secretary for Development: Since I proposed the proposed monument status for Ho Tung Gardens, I have been in a continuous discussion with the owner of Ho Tung Gardens with a view to reaching what I hope to see as a win-win solution. On the one hand, we can preserve this extremely valuable and significant heritage for Hong Kong, and on the other hand respect the owner's private property rights. So, in around May this year, we presented to her what I called a land exchange proposal. Basically, it is by amalgamating two adjacent "Green Belt" sites with part of the Ho Tung Gardens' site which is of less heritage value - the tennis court and the carport - so as to form a big enough site to exchange with her existing site that would give her almost exactly the same development potential - a plot ratio of 0.5 and about 10 villas of no more than four storeys per building. But unfortunately the owner, based on some architectural appraisal given to her by her advisers, said that our land exchange option was not desirable because of various restrictions and limits and also because of the procedures to do in terms of rezoning. As you know, we cannot build on a Green Belt site, we have to rezone the site into Residential before we could offer it as a land exchange. But as a result we have then given her our views again, suggesting that having consulted various concerned departments, we felt that her concerns and limitations by and large could be overcome. And more importantly, we quoted the example of King Yin Lei, which was in exactly the same situation, where we have to rezone a Green Belt site in order to do a land swap with the owner. So I hope that we could continue to explore with the owner on this basis.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Monday, October 24, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:50