Tai Ho OZP Representation
A representation for a balanced conservation and development approach for Tai Ho was submitted to the Town Planning Board, and presented at the representation hearing in November 2017.
The conservation zonings on the OZP prohibits any form of new development (including public or private housing) within the entire Tai Ho area, even those less ecologically sensitive areas. They are restrictive to the point that it constitutes a deprivation of private development rights, as its intention is based on a general presumption against any development. The OZP does not facilitate the conservation objectives of Tai Ho as the third highest priority site under the New Nature Conservation Policy. The private land ownership within the Tai Ho valley, at the Tai Ho stream, makes it important that some form of balance between development and conservation be reached.
The current “Village Type Development” (V) zones have not optimized the land potential to provide village housing to meet the long-term demand. The Planning Department has adopted a questionable “incremental approach” to justify a provision of 58% of the 10-year forecast demand, which was based on a wide array of uncertain factors. The OZP has not considered the need for a public road access and infrastructure facilities for the additional village house developments.
In light of the deficiencies of the OZP, this Representation consolidates the proposals by the land owners to better utilize the land potential for (public and private) residential and village house development; and at the same time, includes measures to conserve the ecological setting and cultural heritage. It presents a balanced solution to address the development and conservation needs of the villagers, private land owners, conservationists and the general public.
The Representer proposes amendments to the Zoning Plan to designate the least environmentally-sensitive areas for an appropriate scale of residential and infrastructure development at the western side of Tai Ho Bay, and to put in place a more extensive Conservation Area zone in the eastern side. This will enable putting into place a conservation management plan at the most ecologically important areas of the Tai Ho Stream catchment. These components are mutually inclusive and can only be implemented in conjunction with each other.
The proposed amendments to the Zoning Plan would facilitate a Proposed Scheme which consists of four Development Sites (DS), three Village Expansion Areas (VEA), two Conservation Areas, and a new Public Road.
The four DS could accommodate a total of about 10,462 flats with 66% (6,864 flats) of public housing and 34% (3,598 flats ) of private housing, which is close to the current New Development Areas in New Territories. The three Village Expansion Areas (VEA) are intended to designate land for village house development to cater to the village housing demand. With adjusted site boundaries and house alignments, the VEAs would be able to meet a significant 92% of the 10-year forecast demand, or a total of 212 village houses.
The “Conservation Area A” (ConA) covers an area of about 31,790m2 at the north of Pak Mong Village, and is intended to conserve the natural environment there and protect the archaeological heritage site. With further detailed design at a later planning stage, it would provide a space for leisure and nature appreciation, and managed as a public open space.
The “Conservation Area B” (ConB)” covers a large area of 305,469m2 at the Tai Ho Stream catchment. It is intended for the conservation of this important ecologically sensitive habitat. It encompasses the SSSI and CA zones in the OZP, and entail rezoning the GB zones under private ownership at the catchment of Tai Ho Stream to CA zones.
The scheme proposes a new public road that would be linked to Cheung Tung Road, providing access and connection between the Development Sites and VEA1 and VEA2, and would not extend beyond Ngau Kwu Long Village to avoid disturbing the ecologically sensitive Tai Ho stream. The public road would be able to accommodate Emergency Vehicular Access, footpath, cycling track and underground public sewage and drainage facilities for the DSs and VEAs.
Preliminary technical assessments from an ecological review, traffic and transport analysis, and environmental review (noise, air and sewage) demonstrated that the proposed developments are situated at the least ecologically-sensitive areas within Tai ho area, and the scale and intensity of development is feasible and compatible with the surroundings.
The Representers believe the possibility of implementing an effective long-term conservation strategy for Tai Ho can be achieved through a Management Agreement approach in conjunction with development that would enable a win-win solution for all the stakeholders, including the villagers, major private land owners, conservationists, Government and general public. The proposed amendments to the OZP would ensure that this takes place under appropriate zoning controls.