Thirty-two hectares of the Fanling Golf Course will be taken back by the government in 2023 and be ready for public housing to begin in 2024, says the Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun.
But the government has no plans for the remaining 140 hectares of the golf course.
The Executive Council on Tuesday fully endorsed the Task Force on Land Supply’s final report on the five-month public consultation, which recommended prioritizing eight supply options.
These included part of the Fanling Golf Course, New Territories brownfield sites and private farmland in the New Territories as short-to-medium options.
The other five options are long-term — creating the East Lantau Metropolis, near-shore reclamation, developing river trade terminal sites, and other new development areas in the New Territories and caverns and underground spaces.
The task force said the 32 hectares on the eastern part of the green would be taken back.
The private recreational lease of the course expires in August next year. Instead of taking it back immediately in 2020, the government will make a special three-year hold-over arrangement for the 32 hectares, after which the land will revert to the government.
The government will begin a technical study in the second half of this year, including ascertaining the maximum number of flats the site can hold for completion by early 2021.
“By early 2024 the land will turn from a potential site to a disposed site, then housing can be built, which will take four to five years,” Wong said.
“The estimate of 4,600 flats on 32 hectares was just preliminary, as we thought there would be much private housing there, with residents owning more private vehicles, but now we will have more public housing, so we can allow relatively more people.”
On why the government would only retake the land in 2023 but not immediately after the lease expires in 2020, Wong said it was simply unnecessary as the technical study would only be completed in 2021.
“We should also give some time for the Hong Kong Golf Club to make the necessary arrangements, as they may have already scheduled some tournaments there.”
But he said the remaining 140 hectares of the Golf Course would remain unchanged, as the lease of that part would be renewed for another seven years, expiring in June 2027.
He said the government needed to achieve a careful balance between the housing needs and golf development. “Criticisms from the golf sector are already there, but as the chairman of the Task Force (Stanley Wong Yuen-fai) has said, there is no painless solution.”
The Hong Kong Golf Club, which runs the Fanling Golf Course, found the government decision regrettable.
The bureau underestimated the challenges and the time associated with the partial development option, it said, adding the decision is “populist and political.”
The Hong Kong Golf Association said it is “greatly distressed,” adding it will reduce public access to golfing facilities.
Another controversial option was the mega-reclamation plan on the sea east of Lantau Island, as the government said the 1,000 hectares Kau Yi Chau artificial island, a part of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision of 1,700 hectares, is of “enormous strategic importance” to Hong Kong’s long term future.
The 1,000-hectares island would provide 150,000 to 260,000 flats, along with the third core business district providing 200,000 jobs.
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