The government is proposing to turn a 65-hectare land in Tuen Mun into a housing estate that can provide about 22,000 flats.
The plan was scheduled to be discussed by the 30-member Task Force on Land Supply on Tuesday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports, citing a source. The task force has already held 10 meetings since it was activated in September last year.
The site is currently being used by the River Trade Terminal, a 50-50 joint venture between Hutchison Port Holdings Ltd. and Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd.
With a three-kilometer embankment and 49 berths, the terminal mainly handles river trade cargoes within the Pearl River Delta.
However, the volume of shipments at the terminal has been on a downward trend since 2011, official figures show.
Due to fierce competition among ports in recent years, the terminal saw its usage rate fall to nearly a quarter of its capacity last year, or 969,000 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEUs), suggesting its importance to society has diminished, the source said, citing documents the government submitted to the expert panel.
As such, the terminal site may be combined with the planned reclamation at nearby Lung Kwu Tan for the full-scale development of the coastal area in west Tuen Mun.
The area, once developed, can provide from 220 to 250 hectares of land, the source said, adding that the throughput of the River Trade Terminal can be absorbed by other port facilities.
The terminal is only 1.5 kilometers away from the nearest residential community and already has a road network and other structures, making it suitable for development as a housing estate.
However, the height of buildings at the proposed estate will be limited because of the third runway planned for the Hong Kong International Airport.
Another problem is how to repossess the land since its lease will not end until 2047. When asked about it, a member of the task force said the other proposals it has discussed also have similar problems.
Besides, it mainly looks at the feasibility of the proposal, along with its positive and negative impacts on society, the task force member said.
In response to the proposal, Sun Hung Kai said it is willing to support any policy that can help increase housing supply, although it is waiting for more details of the plan.
Another member of the task force said the River Trade Terminal is not an option for short-term land supply, adding that public consultations and more studies have to be done.
Meanwhile, Tsang Hin-kit, who chairs the Lighter and Cargo-Boat Transportation Workers Union, is worried that the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macau Bridge, which is set to open in July, will further dim the prospects of the river shipping industry which has been weakening in recent years.
– Contact us at [email protected]