The House News
11th June, 2014
Reasons for HKSAR Gov Should Drop NENT Development Plan: A 15-min Download
1. It cannot resolve Hong Kong’s property problems
The North-East New Territories Development Plan (NENT Plan) involves 614 hectares of land. 400 hectares of the plan require the government to purchase from land owner. Residential development accounts of 96 hectares of the whole project, which is estimated to provide 60,700 residential units: 40% public housings and 60% private housings. The majority of the private housing portion of the project is “low density luxurious housing” (54 hectares), and only 36 hectares of the whole project is used for pubic housings – that is 6% of the whole project.
The Fanling Golf Course, occupying 170 hectares of land, is being taken out of the project plan. The plot of land can potentially be turned into a residential project that can provide more than 60,700 residential units.
The total amount of idle government land is as much as 4,000 hectares, which is 45 times the size of NENT Plan.
2. Destroying local residences’ homes
Most of the villages populated by indigenous villagers are preserved, but over 10,000 people in the district are affected – their home of over three generations will be destroyed in the name of development, and elders will lose everything! Those who will lose their homes are non-indigenous villagers. The NENT Plan ruins the relationship between indigenous and non-indigenous villagers in the affected area. Some villagers who own the land in the area are being forced to leave, they will not only suffer from financial loss as the compensation cannot help them rebuild their home, they will also loss the local community they have lived in for decades. People who are leasing land and properties in the area are also being forced to leave – both groups of people are the true disadvantaged.
3. Elders have nowhere to live
The HKSAR Government’s latest plan is to demolish the elderly home in Shek Tsai Leng in two phrases and build a building for elderly nearby in 2023. The plan sounds great, but the number of qualified elders is very limited. Even if they are allowed to move to this new block, the first phrase of demolition will badly affect the environment as well as the livelihood of the elders who are living in Shek Tsai Leng.
Thousands of elders retired in the villages are also suffering from this plan. Elders are human beings and never the first group of people to be sacrificed in the name of development!
4. Violate procedural justice
The NENT Plan’s outline zoning plan is going through the public consultation phrase according to Town Planning Ordinance. However, the Town Planning Board (TPB) has not approved the plan and the HKSAR Government bypassed the TPB to apply for public funding. The details and size of land acquisitions have not been confirmed either.
The Financial Committee at the Legislative Council is composed of a number of lawmakers who have direct conflicts of interests in this plan remain present at the debate, instead of avoiding arousing suspicious by being absent at these debates, these lawmakers include Ng Leung-sing (Chairman of the Committee who is closely related to Sun Hung Kai Property), James Tien Pei-chun (New World Development), Lau Wong-fat and Abraham Razack.
5. Transfer of interest
The plan specifies that landowners who possess over 4,000 square meter of land within the development area can apply for a land swap. Only major property developers and indigenous villagers could possibly own land in such size. In other words, this plan allows developers to apply for land swap with the farmland they accumulated at extremely cheap price for development. Their price is to pay an insignificant land premium. The NENT Plan is de facto a massive subsidising plan for property developers. Unfortunately, villagers are being sacrificed via this direct interest transfer.
6. Sacrifice local agricultural industry and countryside
The NENT Plan will destroy 1/4 of the active farmlands in Hong Kong and damage the last food safety gatekeeper and environment. The HKSAR Government has no plan for sustainable development policy for Hong Kong’s rural areas. The NENT Plan will turn the remaining farmlands in Hong Kong into “to-be-developed” land, and allow developers to continue accumulating both farmland and outdoor storage lands. Sustainable development and urban-rural co-existence will become impossible.
7. Doubt on creating jobs
The NENT Plan says that “the new development zone is in close proximity with Zona de Aterros do Porto Exterior and Shenzhen… maximise the increasingly frequent economic interactions”, and that the project will provide around 37,700 new job opportunities, including research and development, retail and community services. However, other relevant necessary services including education are not specified. Whether or not citizens who move to the NENT Development area have the skills and capacity to fulfill the demand of these industries is in doubt as well. This is to use industries that are created out of thin air to replace existing industries!
8. Ignoring citizens’ objections
Villagers who are affected by the Plan and activists who support the villagers have exhausted all methods to urge the government to withdraw the plan. Villagers have spoken to the relevant government officials, protested outside the Lands Department, collected 50,000 public comments that object the Plan, and some elders in the elderly homes that are affected by the plan have kneed at the Legislative Council begging them to withdraw the plan. However, the government and those in power refuse to change their mind.
9. A US$15.5 billion White Elephant
The HKSAR Government is going to spend US$15.5 billion to build a “new Northeast New Territories”. US$5.3 billion will be spent on infrastructures, and US$3.9 billion is used for land compensation. 95% of the land that is qualified for the government’s compensation is owned by major developers and indigenous villagers. Instead of using US$15.5 billion to ruin the local agricultural industry and the livelihood of people who are living in the zone, the HKSAR Government could have used the money wisely to establish a pension system, nationalise Links REIT, nationalise the Eastern and Western Harbour Tunnels, develop communities and green industries – all these would be much more welcomed by Hongkongers as they benefit Hong Kong’s sustainability.
10. Town planning should be liberalised
Any development in Hong Kong is required to be reviewed by the Town Planning Board. However, TPB’s operation is non-transparent, as if it is a rubber stamp. Their jargons confuse the general public and forbidding Hongkongers from understanding what is really going on: from Lee Yuen East Street redevelopment, Shum Shui Po redevelopment, Star Ferry Pier, Queen’s Pier to Tsoi Yuen Tsuen. Citizens of Hong Kong realise that TPB needs to be liberalised in order to prevent further monopolisations in Hong Kong.
This ridiculous plan highlights the collusion between the government and businesses, the lack of vision of the TPB, corrupted administration and the pro-government camp’s domination in the Legislative Council. However, the NENT Plan fails to resolve the housing and job creation issues in Hong Kong as well as building a sustainable Hong Kong. This US$15.5 billion White Elephant project will soon become an “out-budget black-hole” that robs taxpayers’ money. If we allow this plan to be passed, each Hongkonger will bear US$2,200 each. Are you comfortable to bear this cost?