LCQ10: Development of a theme park in Ma Wan

Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 11):


Regarding the development and management of the Ma Wan Park ("MWP"), will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the terms of development requirements set out in the MWP development agreement signed between the Government and the developer in 1997 (please list out the details), including the total area of MWP, the recreational facilities and amusement rides to be provided in Phase I, the theme adopted in the design of the park, the facilities to be provided in Phase II and the completion date of Phase II; and why the Government still proceeded to sign the agreement when it was aware that the development plan of Hong Kong Disneyland had already been confirmed;

(b) given that the developer has revised the design of MWP from a theme of active recreational facilities to a park with a theme based on "Naturally Hong Kong", of the differences between the former and the new design of the park (please list out the details), including whether there is a change in the total area of MWP, and the facilities added and deleted; of the authorities' reasons for consenting to the revision of the design and deferral of the completion date of Phase I from June 2006 to December 31, 2008; whether the developer is required to make any payment to the Government for deferring the completion date; if not, of the reasons for that;

(c) given that the Solar Tower, one of the facilities in Phase I of MWP, cannot be completed by the end of this year due to revisions made to the road scheme concerned, of the details of such revisions; whether the authorities have assessed the losses to the public caused by the delay in the commissioning of the facility as a result of the revisions made to the plans or design by the developer, and whether the developer has been requested to make compensation to the Government for such losses;

(d) in addition to the setting up of a sinking fund, of the other terms relating to the operation, maintenance and management of MWP set out in the agreement, including the measures in place to deal with a shortage of operating funds for MWP;

(e) of the channels available for the public to monitor the operation of MWP and the accounts of the sinking fund, as well as to lodge complaints about the management of the park; and

(f) whether MWP is situated on government land, and how the authorities will draw up provisions governing the management of the park (including the opening hours and admission fees for various venues); when the drafting of such provisions will be completed; whether the District Council concerned will be consulted on such provisions; and whether such provisions will be submitted to the Legislative Council for scrutiny in the form of subsidiary legislation?


Madam President,

My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The key terms and conditions of the Heads of Agreement (HoA) for the development of Ma Wan Park (MWP) signed between the Government and the developer in 1997 are as follows:

(a) The construction and development of the MWP may be implemented by the developer in two phases. The developer will bring Phase I of the MWP into operation within five years from the date vacant possession of the land has been delivered to the developer. Given that the Phase II development can only commence after the villagers of the lots in question and the residents of the stilted structures have been vacated, no completion date has been set;

(b) The MWP will be used and operated as a public recreational development which shall include features for entertainment, recreation, amusement, shopping, restaurants, kiosks, catering, advertising and other commercial facilities as may be approved by the Director of Lands (the Director);

(c) The developer shall build the MWP in accordance with the approved Master Layout Plan (MLP). Should amendments be made to the approved plan, approval should be sought from the Director;

(d) The costs and expenses of the development of the MWP may be deducted in the calculation of the premium payable on the regrant of the Northeastern "Comprehensive Development Area" (i.e. the Park Island lot) or the grant of the MWP land;

(e) In the event of any changes to the MLP or for other reason, resulting in a decrease in costs and expenses for the development of the MWP, the developer shall pay to the Government the unexpended balance of the sum which has been previously deducted from the premium in question and interest. Nevertheless, any increase in the costs and expenses for the development of the MWP shall be borne by the developer;

(f) The company managing the MWP shall have full rights and discretion to enter into agreement(s) for the management and/or day-to-day operation of the MWP and grant licences or tenancies of the MWP, provided that no estate or interest in land in the MWP shall be created or conveyed under the said agreement(s); and

(g) The Government agrees that the MWP will be operated on a commercial basis and the company managing the MWP will set up a sinking fund. Net profit after deduction of reasonable operating costs shall be paid to such sinking fund for the purpose of maintenance, repair and improvement of the MWP.

(2) According to the MLP submitted to and approved by the Town Planning Board (TPB) in 1994, the MWP, which would occupy an area of about 17 hectares, would be developed as an "international style" closed theme park with a large number of rides. It comprised five themes, namely, "South China Sea Village", "Old Hong Kong", "New Hong Kong", "Nature Park" and "Children's Adventure World" with ancillary recreation and exhibition facilities. The whole park was envisaged to be fenced and visitors would be required to pay an entrance fee. The approved MLP did not distinguish the facilities to be provided in Phase I or Phase II. The development of the MWP is part and parcel of the comprehensive development of Ma Wan. Negotiations about this project commenced in the 1990s and the HoA was signed in June 1997, earlier than the plan of developing the Hong Kong Disneyland.

Given the subsequent development of the Hong Kong Disneyland and the need to conserve vegetation and preserve the setting of the Ma Wan Old Village, the developer proposed the theme of "Naturally Hong Kong" for the MWP, with emphasis on retaining and refurbishing the existing structures in the Ma Wan town and conservation of the natural environment. Based on this new concept, a revised MLP for the MWP was submitted by the developer in 2003 and approval with conditions was granted by the TPB. The final amendments to the MLP were approved by the TPB in 2006.

According to the MLPs approved by the TPB in 2003 and 2006, the area of MWP, which is to be developed in two phases, is about 19 hectares. There are three facilities in Phase I, namely "Nature Garden", "Noah's Ark" and "Solar Tower". The refurbishment of the Ma Wan Old Village falls under the Phase II development. The "Nature Garden" is an ecological park with different themes, such as nature, education, art and love. The "Noah's Ark", a multiplex centre constructed in the exact size of the original vessel as described in the Bible, is equipped with such facilities as multi-purpose hall, exhibition venues, activity centres, function rooms and guesthouses. The "Solar Tower" is an education centre where exhibitions on the history of Chinese astronomy, solar energy and related information are held and where solar telescopes are available for visitors to view the solar system.

Since the MWP development had been revised from a theme of active recreational facilities to a park with a theme based on nature, amendments to the MLP concerned had to be made, and submissions to the TPB and the Government departments concerned for approval were required. Given the changes in the development plan, a revised road scheme has to be put in place. This being the case, the completion date of Phase I was extended from June 2006 to end-December 2008 as approved by the Government. The "Nature Garden" has been opened to the public free of charge since July 1, 2007 and the "Noah's Ark" is anticipated to be completed before the end of 2008. The "Solar Tower" project, which will depend on the progress of a revised road scheme, is expected to be completed within two years following the authorisation of the revised road scheme. Regarding the developer's responsibility for deferring the completion of the project, the Government will take follow-up actions in accordance with the terms and conditions of the HoA, including those mentioned above.

(3) The construction of the roads for the development of Ma Wan (including the MWP) was authorised under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (the Ordinance) in 1996. The roads proposed in the Master Layout Plans in 2003 and 2006 are different from those authorised under the Ordinance in 1996. Therefore, a revised road scheme has to be re-gazetted and authorised before the proposed roads could be built. The revisions made to the road scheme mainly involve changing a section of a vehicular and pedestrian access surrounding the periphery of the park from north to south to an emergency vehicular access leading to the "Solar Tower" and the existing Old Village (i.e. Phase II). With such revisions, the number of trees to be cut and the area of private land to be acquired will be reduced, which is in the public interest and meets the community's aspiration for conservation. In July and September 2006, we consulted the Tsuen Wan District Council on the relevant arrangement and no objection was raised.

(4), (5) and (6) The Phase I site of the MWP is situated on Government land and has been granted, on a short-term tenancy, to the developer for the commencement of works and the operation of the completed "Nature Garden", which has already been opened to the public. The Government is considering the details of the land grant of the Phase I development. As regards matters concerning the management of the MWP, the Government is having detailed negotiations with the developer in accordance with the relevant terms and conditions of the HoA with due regard to the recent public's concern about public facilities to be provided in private developments. The details of the negotiations include, inter alia, monitoring the operation of the MWP and the detailed financial arrangements, and how to allow the local people to participate in the management of the future MWP. The Government will implement the relevant arrangements by way of HoA as soon as possible.

Ends/Wednesday, June 11, 2008
Issued at HKT 15:33