International golf tournaments will not be affected by a government plan to take back 32 hectares of the Fanling golf course for a public housing project, Hong Kong leader John Lee has said.
Speaking at a press conference ahead of the Executive Council meeting on Tuesday, Lee said the government would aim to resume the 32-hectare plot in September, after the Hong Kong Golf Club’s private recreational lease expires. He said that the housing plan was going through procedures necessary for its approval, but did not say whether the government would press ahead with the planned public housing development.
“No matter what the decision is, our plan at the moment is to resume the 32-hectare plot in September,” he said, adding that the Town Planning Board (TPB) will take into account different opinions and make recommendations for the government’s consideration.
Tournaments to pull out?
Lee’s comments came after Vicky Jones, director of the Aramco Team Series championship, threatened to pull the competition out of Hong Kong and move to a different city “if the government presses on with the public housing plan.” The championship is scheduled to take place at the Fanling course in October.
Representing the golf club, the director of the Saudi Arabia-backed women’s golf tournament said at a TPB meeting on Monday that the Fanling course was the only venue in the city suitable for the event.
Lee on Tuesday said the government’s move to take back the plot would not affect the venue’s suitability for hosting large-scale golf tournaments, and that parts of the 32-hectare plot could be opened to the tournament organisers for reception and promotion purposes, or as a parking lot.
Course still suitable for tournaments
While Lee said the Fanling course would still be home to two 18-hole courses and a 10-hole course after the plot is resumed, he did not say whether the government would commit to the public housing plan.
The 32-hectare plot slated for resumption is located on one of the three courses on the Fanling site called the Old Course. The resumption of the plot will leave the Old Course with 10 holes, down from the full-sized 18.
Development chief Bernadette Linn said last week that the government “[had] not given up” on the development plan, but added that it might not be able to meet its goal of building 12,000 public housing flats on the Fanling course.
The Environmental Protection Department last month gave conditional approval to the plan to build subsidised housing for 33,600 residents on a nine-hectare plot of the Fanling course — part of a larger 32-hectare plot slated to be resumed by the government on September 1. The Civil Engineering and Development Department’s (CEDD) plan has a 2029 completion date.
Also in May, Director of Environmental Protection Samuel Chui told the CEDD in a letter of the need to revise the housing development layout to preserve 0.39 hectares of woodland and minimise the impact on tree preservation “as far as practicable.”
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