The public will be consulted on whether it would like the Fanling Golf Club to be partially or wholly developed, Task Force on Land Supply chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai says.
The two options will be listed as potential land supply choices in a public consultation exercise starting next month. Members of the public can either support or reject the options.
There won’t be a third option listed explicitly in the consultation document – and that is to not develop the golf course for housing. Those who wish to defend the golf course can only reject the two options.
After several postponements, the task force finally tackled the hot issue of whether to retake land plots under private recreational leases, including the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fan Ling, for residential sites.
On Monday, The Standard reported that the Planning Department listed two options to develop the Fan Ling site: retake the entire 172 hectares to produce 13,200 flats or retake only the east block of the 32-hectare golf course for residential buildings that will produce 4,600 flats.
Speaking after the task force meeting, Wong said 66 plots are currently covered by such leases, of which 17 are used by private sports clubs.
Wong said the Fan Ling club meets the government policy requirements of promoting sports in the community, supporting elite sports, and developing Hong Kong into a prime destination for international sports events.
But the task force believes that developing part of the leased plots, which are large, is worth considering to help meet supply of land in the future.
Both options – developing part or the entire golf course – will be included in a public consultation that will start late next month, along with other land-use options involving country parks, brownfields and land reclamation.
Wong reiterated his remarks that developing the whole course would mean more complex technical difficulties, including widening Fan Kam Road, which divides the east and west blocks, with trees on both sides and the Dongjiang water pipe underneath.
The government will also need to address 30,000 trees on the golf course.
“Developing the east block will mean high-density development in the car park area, and the east block is only 800 meters away from the Sheung Shui MTR station,” Wong said.
Yesterday’s meeting was also supposed to tackle another sensitive subject – military sites.
But the Development Bureau was told that all 19 military sites were being used for defense purposes and none is left idle. “The government considers that’s not an option [to boost] land supply. Thus, the task force believes that we won’t put this option for public consultation,” Wong said.
Possible conflict of interest has been revealed in Hong Kong golf course takeover for housing as advisers revealed to be club members.
Government land advisers will be urged to be upfront about any potential conflict of interest before mulling over plans to develop Hong Kong Golf Club for housing, as it emerged that the committee’s vice-chair and another member belongs to an exclusive golf club.
Sources also told the Post that four people, who include former and current senior executives at statutory corporations, have lobbied or approached members of the government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply to oppose building flats on the 170-hectare course in Fanling.
The task force was due to meet on Saturday to discuss whether private recreational sites, including golf courses, should be considered for development to ease the city’s housing shortage.
The meeting was postponed from last Tuesday to give the government more time to prepare papers for the discussion.
Task force chairman Stanley Wong Yuen-fai said he would ask members to make a formal declaration of interest before the meeting if they belonged to the Hong Kong Golf Club or any other recreational club.
In addition, Wong would ask whether anyone had been approached by or had formal discussions with any parties linked to the golf course.
A recent poll has indicated that close to three-quarters of residents feel that a 170-hectare golf course in Fanling is occupying too much land, while 56 per cent feel that the government should use the area for public housing.
The poll was conducted by the Democratic Party between December and January this year by phone. A total of 1,076 responses were recorded.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin said on Sunday that the survey found an overwhelming 70 per cent of respondents felt that the Hong Kong Golf Club was using land resources excessively.
Wan pointed out that the size of the Fanling golf course is equivalent to nine Victoria Parks.
On how respondents hoped the plot of land would be used, 56 per cent said it should be for public housing, 12 per cent for private residential use, 17 per cent for government or community facilities, and six per cent for other purposes. Only nine per cent said the land should remain unchanged.
The Home Affairs Bureau is now reviewing some 67 private recreational leases involving 400 hectares of land across the city.
The survey also found that 79 per cent of respondents felt that the government should regulate the land use period for private recreational leases, such as those for golf courses. Wan said that the Home Affairs Bureau typically awards periods of 15 years or 21 years.
“The figures are clear, the government should take back the golf course for housing development,” Wan said.
It seems the pace and price of Hong Kong’s rapid development has caught up to the rich man’s playground as Hong Kong Golf Club might lose one of its courses – and if a member of the government-appointed Task Force on Land Supply has his way, he won’t stop at just the Old Course. He wants the New Course and Eden Course as well.
The property developers are already at the gates of Fanling – with high-rises appearing not only in a golfer’s view. The latest towering housing development, on the site of the club’s old turf nursery, has forced the 17th hole on the New Course to be repositioned, otherwise its occupants would be dining on golf balls.
More than 5,000 flats could be built on the first eight holes of the Old Course, plus the club’s car park, according to the task force. Even some golfers playing at Fanling this week were surprisingly in favour of it, acknowledging the housing crisis.
The club spokesman maintains there have been no negotiations with the government and there is no plan – or compromise.
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