The government is considering rezoning five Greenbelt sites in Tseung Kwan O to produce 11,260 public housing units that can accommodate about 31,500 Hongkongers, but fell 15,000 trees.
The five sites proposed for development are located at North of Tseung Kwan O Village; Northwest of Ying Yip Road; South of Chiu Shun Road; West of Yau Yue Wan Village; and East of Hong Kong Movie City.
The government has concluded that there is no insurmountable technical problem for the proposed public housing development in five sites, but was criticised by councillors for increasing burden on transport facilities.
In a Special Meeting of Sai Kung District Council held on 19 April 2017, councillors pointed out that the current population in the district has already exceeded 380,000 and traffic congestion occurs in daily peak hours. The completion of these public housing projects, as well as the successive completion of a large number of private housing units in Town Centre and near LOHAS Park Station on the MTR Tseung Kwan O Line, in the next few years, will overload the existing infrastructure in Tseung Kwan O.
Government suggested that improvements of the signal system on the MTR Tseung Kwan O line, scheduled for 2021, would increase passenger capacity by 10 per cent, while Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin Tunnel, the second tunnel connecting Tseung Kwan O to urban areas, is also scheduled for completion in 2021. However, councillors opined that this will only alleviate the current traffic congestion but is not enough to cope with an increase of 30,000 residents.
Among the five sites, the one located at Chiu Shun Road is originally planned for community facilities. Councillors questioned whether it has plans to find other sites to build the community facilities concerned, like markets, elderly homes, car parks, etc.
The government has also come under fire for not giving enough information on environmental, ecological and traffic impact of the proposed housing projects. The department chief engineer confirmed that some 15,000 trees at the sites would be felled.
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.
Christine Fong is Councillor for Wan Po constituency Sai Kung District Council, and member of SAIKUNG BUZZ Editorial Board