HONG KONG’S government has recently approved an ambitious proposal for a 9,500 private residential development to be erected in a countryside farmland area of Sai Kung, amid the island city’s move to address housing shortages in the world’s most expensive real estate market.
The Planning Department has given the green light to Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP) to almost double the number of flats while downsizing the units by close to 40 percent from its original plan.
According to the South China Morning Post, the application is slated to be presented for a meeting at the Town Planning Board’s rural and new town planning committee meeting on Friday.
The Planning Department said it had “no objections” to the application but underscored some conditions for the developer, including a plan for road improvement work in the area and public transportation facilities.
The developer was also asked to submit an environmental assessment report and proposals on the preservation of trees to be submitted to the relevant government agencies.
Covering 74.8 hectares in Shap Sze Heuing in Sai Kung, SKHP, Hong Kong’s biggest owner of farmland, had originally planned to build 4,730 apartment units in 31 blocks of villas with a shopping centre and sports ground.
In its expansion plan, the developer sought to increase the gross floor area to 5.8 million square feet from 4.83 million, fitting 9,500 flats in total.
SHKP also increased the number of residential storeys to 31 from the original 24, with flat sizes cut to about 610 sq feet from 1,000 sq feet from the original plan.
Analysts believe the project could be worth up to HK$80 billion (US$10.2 billion) once developed.
While the project could boost the supply of new homes in the city, Wong Leung-sing, associate director at property agency group Centaline, pointed out added pressure on road networks in the neighbourhood as a potential problem as a government project was underway near the location.
“That is something the Town Planning Board should not take too lightly,” Wong was quoted as saying.
“Imagine some 9,000-plus families going in and out of the area every day.”
Environmentalist Roy Tam, of Green Sense, expressed shock that the project was approved.
“One can’t help thinking the government’s road-widening work is for the sake of the SHKP project there,” he said.
“I am not too sure if the project could really benefit lay Hong Kong buyers. They will be luxury flats only the rich can afford.”