First, the NENT NDAs is a new town for Hong Kong people. The main objective of developing the NDAs has all along been to satisfy the housing and employment needs of Hong Kong people. On employment, taking advantage of the strategic location near the border, the NDAs can provide land for development of industries in Hong Kong and employment opportunities for local residents. However, this is not "Hong Kong-Shenzhen integration". There is no question of the Government allowing Hong Kong to become a backyard for rich Mainlanders.
Secondly, it is a big misconception that Hong Kong has a large vacant land reserve. The often cited 2,100 hectares of "Residential" or "Commercial/Residential" land, in fact include about 1,200 hectares of land zoned "Village Type Development" as well as 420 hectares covering roads and man-made slopes. There are also many strips of land not suitable for development due to small size or irregular configuration, or they are lying between buildings (e.g. back lanes). After excluding these, most of the remaining so-called vacant land already has committed uses, including land reserved for public housing, various private developments and sites on the Application List.
In fact, Hong Kong is in dire need of sufficient developable land in short, medium and long terms to cater for the housing demand of Hong Kong people as well as the development needs of the community. There are nearly 200,000 applicants on the public housing waiting list. The housing shortfall and persistently high property prices have made it difficult for people to buy their homes. Addressing the housing needs of Hong Kong people is definitely an imminent issue that the whole community must resolve.
Thirdly, the NENT NDAs were included under the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects in 2007. Three stages of public engagement have been conducted over a period of four years. The NDAs are a major source of land supply in Hong Kong. If the whole project is "withdrawn" or "halted", it will mean that our housing problem cannot be addressed, and other development proposals in Hong Kong cannot materialise.
Finally, after completion of the third stage of public engagement by end September, the Government will continue to communicate with stakeholders through suitable channels. The Government will adjust the Recommended Outline Development Plans of the NDAs having regard to the public comments received, and will conduct detailed technical assessments on various aspects. The Planning Department will prepare and amend the Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) covering the NDAs and submit to the Town Planning Board (TPB) for consideration. The TPB will invite and consider comments from the public, before submitting the OZPs to the Chief Executive in Council for approval. The whole statutory process will take about 11 months.
The spokesman emphasises that the Government will carefully consider the valuable comments and suggestions expressed by the community, and make appropriate adjustments to the development plans. In taking forward the project, the Government will endeavour to make satisfactory arrangements for those affected. The Government appeals to all concerned to take on the overall interests of Hong Kong and build together a new town for the people of Hong Kong.
Ends/Saturday, September 22, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:57