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New islands, landfill eyed in development drive

2022-10-19 HKT 16:52
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  • New islands, landfill eyed in development drive
Chief Executive John Lee on Wednesday said he would move ahead on his predecessor’s plan to build an artificial island off Lantau as he earmarked a landfill site in Tseung Kwan O for 50,000 new homes in a push to develop more housing.

Giving his maiden Policy Address, Lee said planning and environmental laws would be streamlined to help with the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands project, previously referred to as Lantau Tomorrow Vision, and other major developments.

“The Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands will expand the scope and capacity of Hong Kong's development and greatly enhance Hong Kong's competitiveness as a financial, commercial and trade centre,” Lee told lawmakers.

“Given their close proximity to Lantau Island, the 1 000-hectare Artificial Islands have good linkage with the Hong Kong International Airport and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and are well-positioned to tap economic opportunities from overseas and the [Greater Bay Area]”

Lee said his administration would put forward proposals on the scope of reclamation, land use, transport infrastructure and financing options for the island in the next two months. The target is to start an Environmental Impact Assessment next year and begin the reclamation work in 2025.

He said the development of what he called the third central business district would require new rail and road links to connect the reclaimed area with western Hong Kong Island, Lantau and the Northwest New Territories, including a fourth cross-harbour tunnel.

The government will also move forward by 2024 on the rezoning of green belt sites, with 255 hectares shortlisted to build some 70,000 homes.

On top of that, Lee said his officials will put forward a proposal before the end of December for the development of Tseung Kwan O Area 137. The site is at the southern end of the landfill, along the harbourfront, and was originally intended for special industrial use.

Some 50,000 flats are expected to be built there, with the first residents moving in, at the earliest, in 2030.

Of the 1,600 hectares of brownfield sites in the New Territories, the CE said more than half will gradually be developed for housing and other uses, with users of the sites offered alternative premises at below-market rates to speed up the process.

Lee said legislation would be introduced within two months to amend laws governing town planning, land resumption, reclamation, roads and railways, while the timescale for environmental impact assessments will be compressed to no more than 24 months.

The CE said the changes will cut the time required to turn "primitive land" into "spade-ready sites" for housing from at least six years to four, while for large-scale projects it will be cut from 13 years to seven.

Lee also plans to ease the way for urban renewal projects by reducing the proportion of owners of units in old blocks who need to sign off on redevelopment plans.

New islands, landfill eyed in development drive