The current-term Government has been making efforts to develop land by adopting a multi-pronged strategy. In particular, the development of new development areas in the New Territories North (“NTN”) (hereinafter referred to as “NTN New Development Area”) is one of the key initiatives on land and housing supply in the medium to long term. With an area spanning more than 1 500 hectares of land, the NTN New Development Area, which comprises three potential development areas (PDAs), namely the NTN New Town, Man Kam To (MKT) and San Tin/Lok Ma Chau Development Node (STLMC DN), is expected to provide not less than 100 000 housing units for accommodating a population of not less than 280 000. Meanwhile, about 200 000 job opportunities will be created in tandem with the development of innovation and technology. Situated at a strategic boundary location in proximity to a port economy belt in Shenzhen, the NTN New Development Area can tap into the opportunities brought about by the rapid economic growth of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (GBA) with unlimited development potential.
Visiting NTN together with Legislative Council (LegCo) Members
Earlier on, Members of the LegCo Panel on Development and I visited the three PDAs in the NTN. We started with Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point (BCP), and then visited Kong Nga Po, whereat we, while being briefed by colleagues of the Planning Department (PlanD) about the development plan, had a bird’s eye view of the current development of Shenzhen and the proposed site of NTN New Town development. Afterwards, we took a coach ride to the proposed MKT Logistics Corridor and STLMC DN to gain an understanding of the land use proposals of these two PDAs. The Bureau also exchanged views with Members on housing and transport planning in the district.
NTN New Town accommodating a population of 200 000
The NTN New Town occupies a piece of relatively flat terrain with an area of about 1 100 hectares (including about 160 hectares of brownfield sites) to the north-east of Sheung Shui and Fanling. The vista point we got to on the day of our visit offered a full view of the whole area of the new town development, covering Heung Yuen Wai, Ping Che, Ta Kwu Ling, Queen’s Hill and Hung Lung Hang. According to Chief Town Planner of the PlanD, Mr CHAU Yat-cheung, Lawrence, there are currently villages, agricultural land, and brownfield operations such as workshops and warehouses in the area. Through proper planning with urban design and provision of adequate infrastructure facilities, the development potential of the area will be fully unleashed, with more efficient use of abandoned agricultural land and brownfield sites that will be released for building new communities and improving the environment. The new town is expected to accommodate an approximate population of at least 200 000 and generate about 130 000 job places.
Regarding the STLMC DN, Mr Lawrence CHAU says that its feasibility study has been substantially completed. The DN covers a total area of about 320 hectares (including over 80 hectares of brownfield sites), about half of the land is private land. According to the initial land use plan, STLMC DN can support residential developments with about 31 000 flats for accommodating a population of about 84 000, and provide land for economic and employment uses to create around 64 000 job opportunities. The DN will also leverage on the Northern Link (NOL) and the San Tin Station, which is a new rail link in the Northwest New Territories, to unleash the development potential of the area.
Capitalising on the boundary location
Commanding a strategic boundary location with five BCPs, the NTN New Development Area enjoys easy access to Shenzhen and the eastern part of Guangdong. Mr Lawrence CHAU told us that, with their boundary locations in proximity to Shenzhen, Luohu, Liantang industrial zone, etc., the NTN New Town and MKT are well-placed to develop scientific research, modern logistics, warehousing and other emerging industries. For the STLMC DN, Enterprise and Technology Park is proposed in its northern part for innovation and technology uses. Besides, with its close proximity to Lok Ma Chau BCP/Huanggang Port that facilitates cross-boundary activities, STLMC DN can complement the development of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park at the Lok Ma Chau Loop, creating a greater synergy effect with Shenzhen in the development of scientific research.
Considerations for supporting transport facilities
To keep pace with large-scale development in the NTN, we need to consider how to enhance the connectivity between the NTN New Development Area and its neighbouring area and the urban area. The proposed NOL and San Tin Station will enhance the connectivity of STLMC DN by providing external linkage to the urban area. Mr Lawrence CHAU also told us that the Strategic Studies on Railways and Major Roads beyond 2030 currently undertaken by the Government aim to explore the future railway and major road infrastructure network in Hong Kong, including the necessary strategic transport infrastructure for linking the NTN. Subject to the scale of the new development area and findings of the studies, consideration will be given to providing suitable north-south transport links to facilitate residents travelling to and from nearby new towns or the urban area in future.
Striving to commence works as early as possible
I would like to express my gratitude to the LegCo Finance Committee for its funding approval for the NTN development in mid-July. With the funding of about $800 million for undertaking investigation and detailed design for the STLMC DN, we will explore room for early commencing the works in 2024, with a view to advancing population and business intakes. With the remaining funding of $200 million for conducting a planning and engineering study for the NTN New Town and MKT, it is envisaged that the study will be completed in three years for phased commencement of works as early as possible. These two studies will commence later this year.
We had consulted local stakeholders on the proposal to conduct the aforesaid design/study. They generally did not raise objection to the proposal but expressed their views on various aspects. We had also consulted the LegCo Panel on Development, and Members held that there was a need for better utilisation of the land resources in the NTN for development and speeding up the implementation process so as to capture the opportunities brought about by the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao GBA development. In response to Members’ views, we undertook to explore the expansion of the PDAs and expedite the project implementation. Moreover, the Chief Executive has appointed the Strategic Planning Advisor for Hong Kong/Shenzhen Co-operation to put forth proposals on enhancing the development of cross-boundary co-operation. These strategic proposals will likely provide strategic inputs to the upcoming studies of the NTN New Development Area.
Election Committee subsector elections
Separately, the polling for the Election Committee (EC) subsector ordinary elections, which is one of the three important elections to be held by the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) Government, is scheduled on 19 September. With respect to the improved EC, the engineering subsector and the architectural, surveying, planning and landscape (ASPL) subsector have each set aside 15 seats for ex-officio members and 15 seats for members to be elected by corporate voters. For real estate and construction subsector, there are 16 seats for members to be elected by corporate voters.
The EC ex-officio members will be served by leaders of professional institutions, major statutory organisations and advisory bodies in the sectors. Being the eminent members and senior stakeholders in different fields of the sectors, they are well informed about the strengths and limitations of the sectors, thereby enabling them to elect candidates competent for the offices of LegCo Members and the Chief Executive to lead Hong Kong to sustainable development and improve the economy and people’s livelihood. Meanwhile, the EC members, who are elected by key players of the sectors including members of professional institutions, statutory committees, professional associations, leading engineering and ASPL enterprises as well as those from chambers of commerce, will be representative of the interests of the sectors. By doing so, the elections can be conducted beyond excessive politicisation, and the EC members will not be elected simply on the back of their political stance or slogans.
I believe that with the implementation of the improved electoral system and reconstitution of the EC vested with new functions the overall interests of the sectors and Hong Kong’s society will be well represented, thereby strengthening the executive-led political system and enhancing the governance efficacy of the HKSAR.
5 September, 2021Back