Government officials on Monday brushed aside suggestions to rethink a plan to build public housing on part of the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling, saying the Northern Metropolis won't be sufficient to solve the shortage of homes in the SAR.
Officials from the Civil Engineering and Development Department were responding to concerns raised by members of the Advisory Council on the Environment, which has been studying the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report on the proposed project.
One of the council's members, Lau Chi-pang, asked if the administration had exhausted all other options before pressing ahead with its idea to build flats on part of the 170-hectare Golf Club layout in Fanling, noting the government has floated the idea of the mega-development in the northern New Territories.
In response, chief engineer John Chung said there’s a significant shortage of land in Hong Kong, and the plan to build around 12,000 flats on one of the club's golf courses would house 33,000 people by 2029 and help solve the housing crisis.
The authorities will take back 32 hectares of the golf club when its lease expires next year, but only nine hectares of the resumed area are suitable for building flats, according to the EIA report.
It says more than 20 hectares of land with higher ecological value, including century-old Chinese swamp cypress trees, should be conserved.
The council's chairman Stanley Wong said it's too early to say if it would endorse the report, saying there were unanswered questions concerning species living at the golf course.
"There was a lot of debate in terms of the technicalities that have been included in the EIA. But I think at this point in time, I would not be able to sense any inclination," he said.
Wong called on the authorities to see if taller blocks of flats could be built in order to preserve more trees.
He said the council would meet again before submitting its views to the Director of Environmental Protection later this month.