The government has accepted suggestions from its Task Force on Land Supply, including a plan to take back 32 hectares of Fanling golf course in 2023 for public housing.

Secretary for Development Michael Wong said at a press conference on Wednesday that a government study on using the historic golf course will be completed by mid-2021.

The Hong Kong Golf Club’s lease will end in August 2020. The government, which owns the land, will then establish a transitional arrangement with the club over the three years that follow.

Fanling golf course. File Photo: Citizen News.

The lease on the remaining 140 hectares will be extended to June 2027.

“The lack of land supply today is the result of the government not producing land at any large scale over a long period of time – we have no time to waste,” Wong said. “We want to reduce our reliance on particular and singular sources of land supply, so that we have enough land supply for the development needs of different periods.”

The Task Force, commissioned by Chief Executive Carrie Lam, submitted its report to the government at the end of last year after five months of consultation. Wong said that Lam and the Executive Council have decided to adopt the Task Force’s suggestions entirely.

Reclamation studies

Wong also said that the government will not build housing on the perimeter of country parks, after it previously suggested doing so. It will also suspend land reclamation plans near Ma Liu Shui and the southwestern side of Tsing Yi.

Lantau Island. Photo: Ching Ching Tsui, via Flickr.

Wong said the government will focus on studying the reclamation of 1,000 hectares around the outlying island of Kau Yi Chau, near the eastern coast of Lantau Island. Technical information about potential reclamation of 700 hectares near the island of Hei Ling Chau would also be gained in the process, though there is no timetable for development.

The public consultation carried out by the Task Force only asked about plans around Kau Yi Chau, but did not mention the Hei Ling Chau proposal which was included in Chief Executive Carrie Lam’s Lantau Tomorrow Vision development plan.

Wong was asked whether the government was using the Task Force report to support options it wished to implement, such as reclamation around Hei Ling Chau. However, Wong said they did not oppose government plans for reclamation around the island of up to 1,700 hectares.

“If the government has a new large-scale reclamation project, there will be another public consultation process,” Wong said.

Michael Wong.

The government will also study reclamation near southern Cheung Chau for the potential relocation of container terminals. Other options for study include reclamation near Lung Kwu Tang, Sunny Bay and Siu Ho Wan, Wong said.

Commenting on other suggestions in the report, Wong said the government will speed up the development of brownfield land, including 340 hectares in areas already undergoing development.

He said the Development Bureau was looking into the details of developing privately-owned farmland in the form of private-public sector cooperation, in accordance with the report from the Task Force and the policy address issued by the chief executive last year.

A brownfield site. Photo: Bauhinia Foundation Research Centre.

The government will focus on new development areas such Kwu Tung North, Fanling North, Yuen Long South, and Hung Shui Kiu.

Other studies include the development of caverns, underground spaces, as well as the River Trade Terminal in Tuen Mun.

Stanley Wong, chair of the Task Force, said in response that he welcomed the government accepting their suggestions.

He said it was understandable that the government may have to adjust some of the suggestions ahead of implementation, as the Task Force lacked time to consider all technical details.

“We have spent a lot of time in considering a holistic approach to land supply. I am happy that the government accepted our suggestions, responding to the large numbers of opinions and data we obtained from the community,” he said.

Stanley Wong. File Photo:

But Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan said he did not believe that the government had accepted their suggestions entirely.

“The Task Force said very clearly that [Fanling golf course] should be developed entirely,” he said. “The government is only using this small area of 32-hectares to superficially respond to public demand.”

The Hong Kong Alliance of Golfers, a group formed of golf players, sports teams and celebrities, said there was not enough reason to take back part of the Fanling golf course.

“The government did not reclaim land over the past decade, and now they are sacrificing the sports sector again. It is unfair to the golf and sports sector now that we are being used to fix the problem,” the Alliance’s convener Kenneth Lau told RTHK.

Kris Cheng

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.