Business Environment & Health Hong Kong

Gov’t plan to sell land for residential development includes three green belt areas under judicial review

The government has announced plans to sell four plots of land for residential development between October and December. Three of the plots are green belt areas which are the subject of judicial reviews.

The sites in question include one in Tuen Mun, and three Tai Po green belt zones. A Hong Kong Institution of Education student filed judicial reviews in May to overrule the rezoning of the latter three sites.

Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po said at a press conference on Thursday that the government knew the sale of the sites could be challenged.

“But at this stage, the court has not granted any leave yet,” he said, “this outline zoning plan has been passed by the Town Planning Board, the Chief Executive in Council has approved the outline zoning plan, and we have sufficient legal basis to proceed with the sites therein with legal backing.”

Secretary of Development Paul Chan Mo-po

Secretary of Development Paul Chan Mo-po. File photo: GovHK.

Chan said the four sites will provide about 2,850 housing units. Combining new properties under the MTR Corporation and the Urban Renewal Authority, the government will provide land to build around 4,840 units in this quarter.

Chan added that if the sale of the sites was affected by judicial review, the government would switch to other sites and sell them in the next quarter. It will not affect the government’s pledge to provide 19,000 units this year, Chan said.

Environmental protection group Green Sense told Apple Daily that Chan’s speech was “outrageous” as legal aid applications for the judicial reviews had been approved, meaning the applicant could win.

The group added that if any leave for judicial review was granted before tender invitation period of the sites ended, no property developer would be able to bid for the sites.

It is not the first time such land sales have raised concerns. In September, a project to develop a green belt area at Tai Wo Ping near Lion Rock Country Park raised eyebrows amongst academics and activists alike, who deemed the project “unusual and unjust”.

Gov’t plan to sell land for residential development includes three green belt areas under judicial review