The planned construction of public housing on greenbelt land in the New Territories’ Tseung Kwan O area will provide homes for over 30,000 people, but fell 15,100 trees.

Government plans to develop five pieces of land were discussed at the Sai Kung District Council on Wednesday, but were also criticised by councillors for increasing the burden on Tseung Kwan O’s transport facilities.

The five planned public housing developments in Tseung Kwan O. Photo: Sai Kung District Council.

The Civil Engineering and Development Department began a study of feasible sites in the area for the development of public housing in 2015.

The five proposed sites are located at the periphery of Tseung Kwan O’s main town – some by the hills to the north, and others to the south near the Shaw film studios.

At Wednesday’s meeting, department chief engineer Eric Chiang told district councillors that 15,100 of the 16,100 trees at the sites would be felled, reported InMedia.

See also: Green group urges gov’t to avoid ‘tree massacre’ in construction of N.T. cycling track

However, according to department documents submitted to the district council, the planned construction of 11,260 new apartment units will offer housing to an estimated 31,530 Hongkongers.

Several political parties protested against plans before the meeting. The pro-democracy Neo Democrats cited a survey of almost 700 residents, 87 per cent of whom opposed the development.

Party member and Sai Kung district councillor Gary Fan told Ming Pao on Tuesday that the government should prioritise the development of brownbelt land – land on which construction has already taken place – in Hong Kong.

Tseung Kwan O. File photo: Wing1990hk via Wikimedia Commons.

Pro-establishment councillors also questioned how Tseung Kwan O’s transport system would cope with an increase of 30,000 residents.

Government documents submitted to the council suggested that improvements to the signal system on the MTR’s Tseung Kwan O line, scheduled for 2021, would increase passenger capacity by 10 per cent – a claim that was disputed by councillors.

The Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin Tunnel – the second tunnel leading from East Kowloon to Tseung Kwan O – is also scheduled for completion in 2021.

On Wednesday, the Sai Kung District Council voted against the government’s submission of its development plan to the Town Planning Board. The vote does not bind the government to any action, however.

Elson Tong

Elson Tong is a graduate of international relations and former investigations consultant. He has also written for Stand News.