Construction work began at the Discovery Bay Recreation Club on Monday to turn part of it into a golf cart parking lot. The move came despite protests over whether the company behind the project had received proper approval from the government.

Discovery Bay Recreation Club
Construction work at the Discovery Bay Recreation Club. Photo: Amy Yung.

Photos provided to HKFP showed that an excavator entered the lawn area on Monday and began work. In a video clip, a contractor at the scene said he did not know whether the project had received the appropriate permits, but he was following instructions from his superior.

YouTube video

He was asked by residents whether the construction would stop should police officers arrived on the scene, but he said: “Nothing will happen if they arrive.”

He added that he was told the project must be completed in three months since the company took over the land on May 10. Asked again about the permit, he said: “That’s a problem for the property owner.”

The project, overseen by the Hong Kong Resort Company Limited (HKR), which owns the club, aimed to turn part of a lawn between the club’s swimming pool and tennis court into a parking lot for 90 golf carts, as part of a programme to redevelop Discovery Bay.

DB ‘spirit’

The project received opposition from club members, as Richard Beck, chairman of the club’s tennis advisory committee, started a petition opposing the plan.

“Quite simply, this will irreversibly change the DBRC tennis community dynamic and spirit,” Beck wrote. “No longer will you be able to sit and watch matches, have drinks beside the courts, let you kids run free on the grass, and easily host away teams in HKTA league matches.”

“This is not the DBRC tennis facility I want or will enjoy in the future,” he added. The petition received over 1,000 signatures during one week in March.

Discovery Bay Recreation Club protest
State of the lawn on May 17. Photo: Amy Yung.

Zoning plans

Islands District Councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung notified the Planning Department about the plan in March. The department then sent a letter to HKR on March 23 saying the change of land use was unauthorised.

“Should any development of the subject lawn be found contravening the requirement of the OZP [outline zoning plan], appropriate action would be taken by relevant government authorities,” the letter read.

Amy Yung letter
A letter shared by Amy Yung in March. Photo: Amy Yung, via Facebook.

HKR revised the construction plan in April, saying it “understands concerns of some club members”. HKR said the parking lot was an “ancillary facility” of the club, and the new plan retained a portion of the existing lawn area. New access routes between the club house and the tennis courts will also be provided, it said.

It also said that the lawn area was set to be returned to HKR to facilitate construction works effective from May 10.

Discovery Bay Recreation Club
The revised plan for the golf cart parking lot at Discovery Bay Recreation Club. Photo: Discovery Bay Recreation Club.

However, Beck started another petition against the plan – which has received around 500 signatures so far. Yung told HKFP that residents did not like the new plan.

“How can a parking lot be built between a swimming pool and tennis courts?” she asked. “These golf carts run on diesel, they will cause health issues as people are exercising.”

After being notified by residents of the construction work on Monday, Yung contacted the Planning Department again, which told her it was aware of the work.

“They said they have contacted the police, and have sent questions to Hong Kong Resorts asking what happened,” Yung said.

In response, a spokesperson for HKR told HKFP: “The new golf cart parking complies with related government requirements.”

Discovery Bay Recreation Club protest
Residents hanging a banner on the machine at the lawn. Photo: Amy Yung.

Yung called for a sit-in protest on Tuesday morning at the club.

Discovery Bay Recreation Club protest
Residents at the lawn. Photo: Amy Yung.

HKFP has reached out to the Planning Department for comment.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.