Date
17 September 2019
A proposal to take back some land from a golf course and utilize it to develop new housing has drawn mixed reactions in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ
A proposal to take back some land from a golf course and utilize it to develop new housing has drawn mixed reactions in Hong Kong. Photo: HKEJ

Fanling golf course land move: Is it a done deal?

Almost immediately after the government had announced that it would partially claw back land from the Fanling golf course as recommended by the Task Force on Land Supply, the Hong Kong Golf Association warned that the move would seriously undermine the city’s ability to hold major international golf tournaments.

However, a member of the task force has revealed that the issue was discussed a long time ago, and that a conclusion was reached that the implications of taking back 32 hectares of land within the Fanling golf course would be “insignificant”.

It is because, even after that, the Fanling golf club will still occupy 140 hectares of land, which is big enough for hosting major international golf tournaments if arranged properly.

The conclusion reached by the task force was endorsed by government officials, the member added.

In the meantime, some people believe the process of partially retrieving land from the golf course may not go as smoothly as expected even if the government does have the resolve to do it.

The administration will carry out a thorough study, during the second half this year, on the actual number of new homes that can be built on the land, as well as the environmental and ecological constraints within the golf course amid the planned housing development.

The study is expected to be completed by the end of 2020 or early 2021. And it is projected that the land lots would be turned into “spade-ready” sites by 2024.

But some argue that the study itself constitutes the biggest variable in the course of pressing ahead with the plan.

It is because, according to people who are against the government’s decision, since there are quite a lot of ancient trees and tombs scattered across the golf course. The opponents are therefore optimistic about the possibility of the Development Bureau changing its mind after wrapping up the study.

Besides, as the government is going to start a new term in 2022, it will be a big “if” as to whether the next administration will continue to stick to the plan.

Nevertheless, a member of the task force has disagreed with this notion, because, he explained, the decision of taking back land in the Fanling golf course is pretty much a done deal that is highly unlikely to change, as everything is already down in black and white in the official documents tabled to Legco.

Yet as the Legco panel on home affairs is going to discuss the government’s take on Private Recreational Leases (PRLs) next Monday, a policy that also applies to the Fanling golf club, one can certainly expect another round of heated debate among lawmakers over the issue.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 22

Translation by Alan Lee

[Chinese version 中文版]

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RC

Columnist of Hong Kong Economic Journal.