Wong Chuk Yeung has no hope of heritage preservation and farming revitalisation like Lai Chi Wo, land expert Roger Nissim said. Roger is a former Lands Department official, University of Hong Kong lecturer and adviser to the Hong Hong Countryside Foundation.
The Lai Chi Wo situation is unique. For Wong Chuk Yeung to be saved the land owners would have to be given land elsewhere in compensation. “The Government does not do this,” Roger said, except in a rare case (below).
He explained the Lai Chi Wo situation where he has been involved since the project’s initiation. A Tsang family member — land owners at the village — “came to us saying he was sorry to see the dilapidation there. He happened to run into our Chairman, Mr Lam, who used to head the Observatory. It was a fortunate crossing of roads.” An agreement was reached for the Countryside Foundation to rent a large patch of land (see earlier story here.)
“If there is a genuine desire for conservation,” Roger said. “We have the ways and means to do it.”
Asked if he sees hope for Wong Chuk Yeung, Roger said, “I don’t think so.”
A lot of people love Sha Lo Tung, the beautiful plateau high in the hills above the Taipo industrial estate with an ancient village and overgrown former farming land, just like Wong Chuk Yeung. They will be pleased to read this.
The Government has “uniquely” agreed to a land swap deal with Joe Fung of the Sha Lo Tung development company that owns 90 per cent of the land. He has been given land near the Taipo industrial estate as compensation for giving up his rights to Sha Lo Tung. Roger said a revitalisation project, like that now being completed at Lai Chi Wo, will be carried out at Sha Lo Tong over time. The reason that it has happened at Sha Lo Tung was because one person controlled the bulk of the land. “Fragmented ownership is a problem.”
On whether revitalisation projects like Lai Chi Wo and Sha Lo Tung will become common place, Roger said, “Dream on.”