Kitchee Football Club knew all along that the government would requisition the land on which Kitchee Centre currently sits, after the initial four-year lease expired, a Sing Tao columnist has said.
Citing a government source, the columnist wrote that “no one made any promises to lease the land at Shek Mun in Sha Tin to Kitchee in the long-run.” The government had suggested that Kitchee should not commence the construction of Kitchee Centre.
“Not only did Kitchee disregard the suggestion, they applied for funding from the Jockey Club,” the columnist wrote, “with the intention that the Shek Mun land would eventually become Kitchee’s long term football training centre.”
The piece of land was approved for use by Kitchee under the administration of the previous Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, who made the decision after the Hong Kong football team took home the championship at the 2009 East Asian Games. The government was under public criticism for not providing enough football facilities in Hong Kong.
Current Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying, however, has his priorities set on housing. And so he identified the available land after reviewing everything on the list of short-term land leases.
‘Informal consultation’ continues
Government officials “informally consulted” Sha Tin district councillors on Wednesday and Thursday. Sha Tin District Councillor Michael Yung Ming-chau told RTHK that the meeting was about Sha Tin’s Outline Zoning Plan, which included four rezoning projects.
One of these was the rezoning of Kitchee Centre. Others included the rezoning of land around Shek Mun Estate into columbaria, and the rezoning of land near A Kung Kok for sewage treatment plants.
Yung told RTHK that he opposed all rezoning except for that for the columbaria. “This piece of land was intended for recreational purposes,” he said. “Now the government wants to take it back for housing without any compensation for local residents.”
Another Sha Tin district councillor, Iris Wong Ping-fan of the pro-establishment DAB party, said that she opposed the four rezoning projects being discussed together in the district council meeting next month. “Not all four pieces of land are disputed… it would be better to discuss them separately.”
The Jockey Club Kitchee Centre, a HK$84m complex of football pitches and training facilities, faces demolition just one year after its completion to make way for 1,400 public housing units. Leung Chun-ying confirmed the government’s intention on Monday.