Many big developers have been acquiring agricultural land in the area for their land reserves. Recently, with the public consultation over future land supply, one option considered is for public-private partnerships. It seems that many District Board members have endorsed it as a way to release more land, especially outside the new town areas around Tseung Kwan O, i. e. around Sai Kung Town. Under a public-private partnership, the government will provide infrastructural facilities in the vicinity of the private land to the developers, who will have to build a certain number of public homes to return the favour.
The total area of Sai Kung District is 136.4 square kilometres (13,600 hectares, twice the size of Sha Tin District). It contains the new town of Tseung Kwan O, Sai Kung Town Centre and the Sai Kung Islands. Whilst the new town is planned as a dense, high-rise environment, the areas around Sai Kung Town are generally designated for low-density low-rise development. The district mainly focuses on private houses, small houses and rural development.
Much of the farmland around Sai Kung has been acquired by development consortia. For example, the New World Report estimates that there is as much as 1.161 million square feet of agricultural land around Sai Kung. One site highlighted is in Shum Chung, and another in Pak Kong. BUZZ has highlighted this in previous stories – just two weeks ago we wrote about the purchase of over 200 lots at Lai Chi Chong.
Ng Sze-fuk, George, chairman of the Sai Kung District Council, said that he agreed with the public-private partnership concept in the development of farmland reserves. He believed that as long as transparency is improved and under reasonable consultative mechanisms, more land can be released within a short period of time. So long as it is in the public interest, he does not see why it should not be done.
Ng also believes that there is a need for land reclamation in Hong Kong to provide more land for housing to solve the property market problem. He cited the example of relocation of two indigenous villages when building the High Island Reservoir in the past, and also other reclamation in the Sai Kung area.
Another Sai Kung District Councillor, Li Ka-leung, Philip, points out that rural residents in Sai Kung have no special opinions on the public-private partnership model. However, they are concerned that the original quieter environment in the area will be damaged and traffic pressure will be increased. He urged the government to consider improving the rural transport facilities, and thus make it more attractive to release some of the land reserves.