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Old February 25th, 2013, 07:48 PM   #1581
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PLA HQ under scaffolding :

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Hong Kong Island and Convention Centre by dean_rivett, on Flickr
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Old February 25th, 2013, 11:38 PM   #1582
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Property market in 'dangerous situation', warns Lam Woon-kwong
Tuesday, 05 February, 2013, 12:00am
South China Morning Post

A "knee-jerk" approach to building more housing and creating a land reserve may permanently damage the efforts of town planners, Executive Council convenor Lam Woon-kwong cautions.

In an interview with the South China Morning Post, Lam also warned that speculative buying had put the property market in a "very dangerous" situation, and the government must watch for the downside while trying to alleviate the land shortage.

In his policy address last month, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the government would rezone 36 government, institution and community sites to relieve the acute demand for housing.

Without referring specifically to Leung's speech, Lam cautioned that "some knee-jerk reactions could in due course do permanent damage".

He cited Tseung Kwan O as an example, noting that the town was originally planned to have a pleasant living environment.

Instead, the plot ratio was raised under former chief executive Tung Chee-hwa's policy of building 85,000 flats a year. Tseung Kwan O developed into a forest of high-rises that block the sunlight and darken the streets.

"I am old enough to say, we have made a lot of mistakes in our town planning and housing construction; most were because of knee-jerk reactions," Lam said.

He stressed the necessity of the government creating a land bank, or land reserve. It was "lamentable" that the biggest land bank was not owned by the government, but was in the hands of property tycoons, he said.

"Building up a land reserve is not done by finding a piece of land in Causeway Bay and inserting a toothpick-like building on it," Lam said. He was referring to recent proposals to build new public housing developments so small that they would hold only a few hundred flats.

Instead, the government must take the long view, reclaim land outside Victoria Harbour and develop new towns, Lam said.

He said he broke into "a cold sweat" recently when he saw a report on global property statistics ranking Hong Kong at the top, with its 90 per cent surge in prices over the past five years.

Singapore, which came second, saw only a 24 per cent surge.

"Buyers have to think about this - what is so special in Hong Kong that could support this unreasonable surge?

"I believe it is speculation," Lam said. "When property prices increase even for small homes and peripheral areas in the New Territories, almost always in the previous decades this has signalled the end of the cycle."

While the final stage of the cycle could last for a long time, he said, the risks were obvious because interest rates could go up in the coming years.

"When [the administration] implements policies to make up for a shortage, you have to watch for the downside," Lam said.
It might be better to live in Shenzhen and commute to Hong Kong once the CRH line opens up from Futian to Kowloon. I wonder why more skyscrapers aren't being built like the rest of China.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 04:02 AM   #1583
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It might be better to live in Shenzhen and commute to Hong Kong once the CRH line opens up from Futian to Kowloon. I wonder why more skyscrapers aren't being built like the rest of China.
Prices in Chinese cities have also risen significantly in the past few years. Shenzhen is no longer a cheap place to live, although using the CRH to commute to Hong Kong is an intriguing idea.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 05:57 PM   #1584
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Prices in Chinese cities have also risen significantly in the past few years. Shenzhen is no longer a cheap place to live, although using the CRH to commute to Hong Kong is an intriguing idea.
From what I felt back in 2010 when I visited was that Guangzhou and Shenzhen felt just as clean, organized and vibrant as Hong Kong. Since it's estimated that travel time between Futian and Kowloon station will take 14 minutes on the CRH, it seems like a completely viable commute option. I'm not sure how many people commute between Hong Kong and Shenzhen today but I'm sure the CRH line will open up a lot of opportunities not realized before the opening of the high speed line.
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Old February 28th, 2013, 08:03 PM   #1585
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From what I felt back in 2010 when I visited was that Guangzhou and Shenzhen felt just as clean, organized and vibrant as Hong Kong. Since it's estimated that travel time between Futian and Kowloon station will take 14 minutes on the CRH, it seems like a completely viable commute option. I'm not sure how many people commute between Hong Kong and Shenzhen today but I'm sure the CRH line will open up a lot of opportunities not realized before the opening of the high speed line.
The cost differential for housing has narrowed quite a lot. In fact, with the soaring RMB, Hong Kong properties are cheap and many mainlanders have bought in Hong Kong with the 15% exchange rate discount.

The border crossing formality is also a pain. Cross-border commutes are not common at the moment.
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Old March 1st, 2013, 05:38 PM   #1586
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港第二大屏山圖書館周四啟用
2013年02月26日(二)


Highlights : Hong Kong's 2nd largest public library opens in Tin Shui Wai on Thursday. The design mimicks a traditional courtyard house, with plenty of windows to allow natural light through.







【本報訊】首創讀者可攜書在戶外庭園閱讀、全港第二大的屏山天水圍公共圖書館於周四(二月二十八日)開放給市民使用。圖書館以高低錯落的中庭及庭園設計,配合玻璃幕牆的透光,讀者無論在室內或庭園戶外,均能享受在自然光下的閱讀樂趣。

樓高八層的新圖書館坐落於天水圍聚星樓路一號,面積六千一百平方米,其中三樓及六樓書庫外,分別設有中庭及空中花園,讓讀者可以攜書在戶外閱讀。

建築署高級建築師溫灼均介紹,圖書館毗連屏山文物徑及不少歷史建築物,考慮圖書館與文物徑之間有直接關係及和諧,故設計及建築材料融入不少傳統元素,例如外形用了大量的青石磚、木材及耐銹鋼等,館內的中庭和前庭採光概念來自屏山鄧氏的書室。

他說,大樓的外牆立面設計靈感來自中國傳統的「百寶格」形式,立面凹凸處理緊扣大樓內部不同的功能,配合成為室內緩衝的休憩平台,保持視覺上的和諧;而大樓的頂部通天設計,讓自然光線直達大樓底層,讀者可以走出圖書庫,踏進中庭花園,在文化的氛圍下享受閱讀。
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Old March 3rd, 2013, 05:25 AM   #1587
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Land policy dumped
The Standard
Friday, March 01, 2013

The government is dumping the land application system in use for 14 years in favor of regular site tenders as its tries regain control of local land supply.

Secretary for development Paul Chan Mo-po yesterday said land sales from April will be conducted only through regular tenders, organized into quarterly schedules.

The schedule for each quarter will be revealed ahead of time, similar to the practice in place before 1999.

Chan's radical revelation was unexpected yesterday as he was only supposed to give details on the sites coming for sale in the current financial year.

He stressed the government has been taking initiative to put land from the application list on the market while only few sites have been triggered for sale by developers.

"We don't want to give a wrong impression to the public that [land] supply is determined by developers' triggering the sale. Thus, we will abolish this system."

Chan reiterated the government will continue to put more land on the market to stabilize the currently red-hot residential property sector.

During the 2013-2014 financial year, the government will launch 46 residential sites - of which 28 are new - to accommodate 13,600 private homes.

They include three plots in the Kai Tak Development area, and one at Renfrew Road in Kowloon Tong which the Baptist University fought to be used as its Chinese Medicine School.

Chief executive Leung Chun-ying said the regular tendering system may allow small and medium-sized p
roperty developers to enter the market.

Under the legacy application system, a developer could apply to trigger a sale of a site from the site list by paying a deposit.

The scheme was launched in 1999 alongside regular land sales, in order to give developers flexibility following the Asian Financial Crisis, when the local property bubble burst. Land sales totally stopped in 2002 and a year later, the government resumed sales only through the application list, surrendering the land supply schedule to the market.

The system fared relatively well until 2005, when an increasing number of developers publicly warned of a "supply cliff" as high land prices were discouraging them from triggering sites for sale.

Less land supply has caused local home prices to rise 1.2 times in less than five years.

Since 1999, property developers have triggered a total of 58 sites from the application list - of which 49 were residential sites. But in the current 2012-13 fiscal year, only two plots have been triggered.

Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) co- chairman Thomas Kwok Ping-kwong said the scrapping of the application scheme "will have little impact" for the housing market, but agreed that government controlled mechanism will boost stability.

Stewart Leung Chi-kin, Real Estate Developers Association executive committee chairman, said the government will always consider market demand while it takes total control of land supply.

Cheung Kong (0001) executive director Justin Chiu Kwok-hung said the move reflects the government has understood the situation facing both the residential and commercial property markets.

Analysts have said the application system was flawed as the developer who triggered the site had no advantage in the auction room.

Lau Chun-kong, head of valuation advisory services at Jones Lang LaSalle, pointed out the application system is part of the reason why land has been under supplied for the past decade.

He believed the most important thing needed to stabilize the housing market was sufficient supply of land sites.
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Old March 4th, 2013, 04:08 AM   #1588
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Farmland flats proposal wins NWD backing
The Standard
Thursday, February 28, 2013

Property tycoon Henry Cheng Kar-shun of New World Development (0017) has echoed Henderson Land (0012) boss Lee Shau-kee's proposal to donate farmland reserves in the New Territories for building affordable homes.

"It's a good idea," said Cheng, chairman of New World, following the developer's results announcement yesterday.

"It highlights how the government and the public can cooperate with an aim to improving people's living conditions."

NWD is the territory's third- largest hoarder of agricultural land with an attributable 18.7 million square feet, mostly concentrated in Yuen Long. "We will look at which part of our land is suitable for this purpose."

Cheng's comments came after the government confirmed it is "actively considering" Lee's farmland proposal. The Henderson boss said the land could be used for cheap homes that would sell for HK$1 million, which young people could afford.

Analysts pointed out that Lee floated the proposal just when the government has been pushing the North East New Territories New Development Areas program.

The government has yet to decide whether it should adopt the "new town model" as that would enable it to retain control of all land in the area.

This model is not favored by developers.

They are likely to prefer the government-private cooperation model allowing the developer to pay a premium to convert agricultural land into housing estates.

Meanwhile, New World's underlying net profit in the second half of last year was HK$4.1 billion, up 45 percent from the same period in 2011 and higher than market estimates.

Cheng said New World aims for double-digit growth in sales every year for the next five years.

The developer intends to launch a couple of projects later this year. In particular, presale consent applications have been submitted for the 1,620-unit Park Signature and 236-unit The Woodsville schemes - both in Yuen Long - plus the luxury Austin Station project.

It will pay 12 HK cents interim dividend. Shares jumped almost 4 percent to HK$13.76 after the results were announced midday.

Its subsidiary, New World China Land (0917), posted a 29 percent rise in net profit in the second half of last year to HK$2.32 billion.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 11:23 AM   #1589
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You choose
The Standard
Tuesday, March 05, 2013

Tycoon Lee Shau-kee has compiled a "basket" of sites from his vast farmland holdings to help the government build up to 10,000 affordable homes for young people.

Representatives of the tycoon and the administration have been holding talks for the past two-three months.

Sources said the government is looking at the land list - all believed to be mostly owned by Henderson Land (0012) - which are rather "fragmented" and distributed in various districts.

It is understood that Lee - dubbed "Uncle Four" - will first buy out the land from the listed firm at a fair price before donating in his personal capacity.

The number of homes that can be built may take up almost 40 percent of the expected land supply in the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Lee, 84, started the engine of the unprecedented government-business collaboration late last year when he urged authorities to waive the land premium for some of Henderson's vast agricultural land holdings in the New Territories.

This would allow him to build cheap homes to help solve the housing problem of the younger generation.

"If we supply 300 sq ft homes worth HK$1 million, everyone can own a home," he said earlier.

In a bid to avoid allegations of collusion, it was proposed that Lee donate the land.

Since the idea of land donation emerged, analysts have pointed out that Henderson stands to benefit from such a move. Donating some plots would speed up the conversion of nearby sites owned by the firm to residential use from a
gricultural purpose.

Such a process can otherwise take years - if not decades. Henderson could also benefit from the infrastructure the government will build in the area where the cheap homes are located.

However, a government source said more building limits may be imposed on sites near the cheap homes.

One of the ideas being discussed is that downpayments will be waived for buyers of the special-purpose homes. A fixed interest rate on mortgages may be offered to owners, The Standard has learned.

But market watchers doubt if banks will be able to offer full mortgages due to the strict lending regime imposed by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

The sources said potential buyers of the homes may be subject to certain means tests, while these homes should come with a lock-up period and owners would need to pay a land premium before selling them.

Analysts reckon the donation could also mean the government giving up the "new town model" for the North East New Territories New Development Areas program.

Under this model, the administration draws up the master plan and controls all land in the area.

Henderson is the largest hoarder of agricultural land with 42.4 million square feet of reserves, of which 5.1 million sq ft is within the North East New Territories New Development Areas.
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Old March 5th, 2013, 10:19 PM   #1590
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Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
The cost differential for housing has narrowed quite a lot. In fact, with the soaring RMB, Hong Kong properties are cheap and many mainlanders have bought in Hong Kong with the 15% exchange rate discount.

The border crossing formality is also a pain. Cross-border commutes are not common at the moment.
That's interesting. So it looks like financially things are equalizing across the border? I wonder when the border crossing formalities will the eased or even eliminated. I guess if it the formalities were eliminated Hong Kong would have to adopt China's visa policies which are more restrictive than Hong Kong or Macau at least for a U.S. Citizen. I didn't need a visa for Hong Kong but paid something like $150 for a Chinese visa back in 2010.
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Old March 6th, 2013, 03:41 AM   #1591
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That's interesting. So it looks like financially things are equalizing across the border? I wonder when the border crossing formalities will the eased or even eliminated. I guess if it the formalities were eliminated Hong Kong would have to adopt China's visa policies which are more restrictive than Hong Kong or Macau at least for a U.S. Citizen. I didn't need a visa for Hong Kong but paid something like $150 for a Chinese visa back in 2010.
We're not at the point of equalization, and will not be for quite some time. There are a lot of uncertainties of living in China and commuting to Hong Kong that far outweight the narrowing cost savings. The biggest concerns are medical care and food safety.

The border crossing will not be eliminated. However, for Hong Kong citizens carrying our ID cards to enter China, we can use automated kiosks on both sides of the border to make the crossing in minutes.
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Old March 9th, 2013, 04:39 PM   #1592
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Residents welcome URA plan to rip down Sham Shui Po block
Urban Renewal Authority will move tenants to public housing if eligible, or compensate them, to make way for a new 25-storey development
Mar 09, 2013
South China Morning Post











A crumbling, heavily subdivided corner block in Sham Shui Po, built more than 50 years ago, will be replaced with a 25-storey development by 2021 under plans announced by the Urban Renewal Authority yesterday.

The proposal was welcomed by residents of the block on the corner of Tonkin and Fuk Wing Streets, who said the environment was "terrible".

It will be the authority's 15th project in the district, one of Hong Kong's most decrepit.

"It's an old building. It's time for it to be taken down," said Cheng Lung-ming, 70, who has lived in the same subdivided flat at 38 Tonkin Street for 20 years and applied for public housing just a few days ago. "I live alone, so it doesn't matter too much where I go. Of course, it would be best to stay [in Sham Shui Po]."
It's an old building. It's time for it to be taken down

Another tenant of a subdivided flat, Lau Kai-hiu, 57, welcomed the move, as long as he could get public housing. Lau had a stroke a few years ago, so using the stairs of his decrepit building has become difficult.

"The environment around here is terrible. There are leaks everywhere, and cement chunks falling off," he said.

The buildings the URA hopes to acquire were built between 1955 and 1958, span 13 street numbers and are five to seven storeys high. The 1,270-square-metre site shelters an estimated 110 households and 27 businesses, but the URA said the exact number of residents had yet to be determined because of widespread illegal subdivision.

The proposed new development will provide 7,460 square metres of residential area - some 145 small- to mid-sized flats - and 1,490 square metres of commercial floor area. The estimated cost is HK$1.03 billion.

An authority spokesman said it was believed some flats in the buildings were divided into "coffin-sized units" stacked on three levels, as advertisements displaying "TV rooms for rent" - a euphemism for the tiny units - were put up on the staircase walls.

Eligible tenants will be moved to public housing or compensated, URA director of acquisition and clearance, Ian Wong, said. But some residents said private agencies had been snapping up flats in recent months, which might affect the authority's acquisition plans.

If there are no objections to the project and approval is granted by the Development Bureau, the structure should be completed by 2020-21.
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Old March 12th, 2013, 06:20 PM   #1593
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Hospital backers protest at homes decision
The Standard
Friday, March 08, 2013





More than 100 Baptist University students and teaching staff protested outside the offices of Kowloon City District Council against a government decision to rezone the former Lee Wai Lee Institute site for residential use.

Dressed in black and carrying black banners, the demonstrators chanted slogans accusing the government of rushing into a decision even before a two-month consultation period ends next month.

The university wants to acquire the site in order to build a hospital specializing in Chinese medicine.

The council yesterday discussed the rezoning of the site but many of its members were against the idea.

One councillor accused the government of bypassing the Town Planning Board while others suggested the site should be reserved for community facilities.

Judy Chung Sui-kei, principal assistant secretary for development, made it clear the site will only be sold after the board has passed the rezoning proposal.

Kowloon District planning officer Fiona Lung Siu-yuk said: "Mainly medium or low-density residential estates are built in Kowloon Tong so we think a residential development is not inappropriate."

Estrella Cheung King-sing, principal assistant secretary for food and health, said the bureau has no authority to approve sites for the construction of a private hospital specializing in Chinese medicine.

However, she said she personally supports the university's proposal to build such a hospital.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 05:02 AM   #1594
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Ho Man Tin site tipped at over $10b
The Standard
Friday, March 08, 2013



The long-awaited tender for a plot in Ho Man Tin designated for luxury residences closes today.

It is expected to fetch more than HK$10 billion, which would make the site one of the costliest in recent years.

Surveyors said the 259,185 square foot plot along Sheung Lok and Sheung Shing streets will generate between HK$9.55 billion and HK$11 billion for the government.

That would translate to around HK$8,361 to HK$9,631 per buildable square foot, with the plot expected to yield a maximum gross floor area of about 1.14 million sq ft.

This is the first site being tendered after the latest property sector curbs imposed on February 22, with stamp duties now doubled for second homes. Midland Surveyors director Alvin Lam Tsz-pun expects the plot to now fetch about HK$11 billion, down from an earlier estimate of HK$12.6 billion as the curbs have begun to bite.

The high price could be compared to the winning bid in 2010 by Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) for a site at Fat Kwong Street, in the same district, which was HK$10.9 billion.

"The latest cooling measures have had a direct impact on the luxury property market," Lam stressed.

Transactions have fallen significantly in the two weeks since February 22. But developers are still keen on such plots amid high demand for luxury homes.

Cheung Kong (0001), Henderson Land (0012) and Nan Fung Group have shown interest in the Ho Man Tin plot. Agents said secondary home prices in the district will likely rise after the tender.

Units at the flagship luxury estate in the district, Celestial Heights, now fetch HK$12,000 per square foot.

Meanwhile, tenders also close today for a Tung Chung commercial plot, with the 107,920 sq ft site along Tat Tung Road and Mei Tung Street expected to fetch about HK$1.02 billion.

With a maximum GFA of 539,599 sq ft, that translates to a price of HK$1,890 per buildable sq ft.
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Old March 15th, 2013, 07:08 PM   #1595
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New sites mean business
The Standard
Thursday, March 14, 2013

Responding to a perennial supply shortage of commercial property and hotels, the government is set to launch more land for business use in the coming fiscal year and which could reap HK$28 billion.

The Development Bureau earlier announced that it is tendering nine land parcels for commercial use in 2013-14.

These sites have a total gross floor area of 4.62 million square feet, comprising six new plots and three from the former application list.

That represents a 14-fold jump in land supply compared with the 2012-13 financial year.

While the majority of the commercial space will be in Kowloon East, surveyors said the most attractive site will be the one next to the Sheraton Hotel in Tsim Sha Tsui. A multistory car park sits on it at present. The 28,310-sq-ft site - which is earmarked for a 300-room hotel - on Middle Road is expected to fetch HK$3.4 billion, or HK$10,000 per buildable sq ft.

Vincent Cheung Kiu-cho, national director for valuation at Cushman & Wakefield, said there has not been any new land supply in the district for years and believes the site, which is close to the MTR East Tsim Sha Tsui Station, will prove to be a big draw for developers.

Meanwhile, Kwun Tong and neighboring Kowloon Bay - areas the government is planning to turn into the new Kowloon East commercial hub - will offer the maximum amount of office supply in the coming year. Three sites will provide as much as 2.32 million sq ft of commercial property space.

The largest site is on Wai Yip Street, Kwun Tong. It is adjacent to a plot Wheelock (0020) bought two years ago for HK$3.5 billion, a record for Kowloon East. Occupying 84,499 sq ft, the site can provide more than one million sq ft of space and is expected to fetch HK$5.5 billion.

Surveyors said most of the plots scheduled for tender are large sites, with some exceeding 30,000 sq ft - an industrial minimum standard for Grade A office towers.

In last month's budget, Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah said the government will "expedite the development of the Kowloon East core business district" in the long term, providing land that will accomodate 43 million sq ft of office floor area when completed.

Across Victoria Harbour, two plots on Hong Kong Island have been put up for sale.

One is the former Wan Chai Police Station, sandwiched between Lockhart Road and Gloucester Road, which will be developed into a 641,145-sq-ft office tower. However, the winning bidder will have to preserve and revitalize the facade of the Grade II listed police station, built in 1932 and which closed its doors in late 2010.

The other plot is the Murray Building on Cotton Tree Drive in Central. This former government office building will be redeveloped into a 300-room hotel, and the tender for operational rights will be launched by June at the earliest.

For this site too, the winning bidder will have to preserve the facade of the 44-year-old tower and also the surrounding trees. The government will retain ownership of the property. Market watchers said its premium location should see the site attract hot bids.

In the longer term, Tsang said the government will continue to provide office space in business areas by decentralizing government departments.

"The completion of the new Trade and Industry Tower at the Kai Tak Development Area by end-2014 will release more than [193,752 sq ft] of floor area in the Trade and Industry Department Tower in Mong Kok for commercial use," Tsang said.

While moving the Department of Justice to the old Central Government Offices in 2015 will free up 26,587 sq ft of leased office space in Central and Admiralty, Tsang said a larger project is being planned - the relocation of 29 departments and more than 10,000 staff from three government office buildings at the Wan Chai waterfront.

When completed, it is expected to provide some 1.88 million sq ft of office space.
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Old March 17th, 2013, 06:24 AM   #1596
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Synopsis : Ming Wah Dai Ha, the 50-year old public housing estate in Shau Kei Wan, will be redeveloped but planners had hoped to save 1 block. However, another proposal has arisen to raze the block for a park instead. The entire redevelopment plan is expected to finish in 2018.

明華大廈建公園 保留集體回憶
2013年03月16日(六)




房屋協會重建有五十年歷史的筲箕灣明華大廈,城市規劃委員會提出保留其中一座作為紀念,但房協認為不可行,反建議設立保育公園,盛載居民集體回憶。城規會昨終收貨,明華大廈將分批重建,首批新單位二○一八年落成。有東區區議員表示,居民不太關注保育問題,只想盡快重建。

城規會都會規劃小組委員會去年九月審議明華大廈重建計劃時,要求房協研究保育M座,房協提出三個保育方案回應,第一個方案是保育M座,但指該座在交通繁忙的柴灣道旁,日後不宜再作住宅,而作社區用途也不適合,因會犧牲興建一座新住宅,損失四百八十個單位來安置居民。

首批新單位2018年落成

方案二是利用明華大廈部分拆建物料來複製一座新大廈,但房協亦稱,明華大廈經過多年洗禮,外牆建築特色已失,而且新大廈用途成疑。最後一個方案是在新樓之間空地設「明華公園」,利用舊磚牆及歷史圖片,盛載居民集體回憶。

房協形容,「明華公園」保育方案最能平衡社會需要,亦不會影響重建計劃。城規會都會規劃小組委員會昨早會議亦認同房協說法,通過方案三。

房協發言人昨回應指,去年開始搬遷明華大廈居民,根據計劃,明華大廈將分兩期重建,第一期拆六座,預計首批新單位二○一八年落成,之後清拆餘下七座,重建後九座新樓提供四千個單位,比現時多一千個。

東區區議員勞鍱珍質疑:「甚麼都保育,是否將來連劏房也要保育?很多人輪候公屋多年還未上樓,政府又話無地,我不贊成為保育而阻礙重建,若在兩座樓之間起個公園仔做紀念,則無可厚非。」

勞鍱珍指出,明華大廈重建第一期先拆其中三座,現時只剩下五戶未搬,而保育並非居民關注,他們最關注住屋問題,不希望拖慢重建計劃。
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Old March 18th, 2013, 03:21 PM   #1597
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Staff join forces with students in site battle
The Standard
Monday, March 18, 2013

Teaching staff of Hong Kong Baptist University have expressed support for a plan by students to take strike action over the rezoning of a nearby plot of land.

This came after the government decided to rezone the former Lee Wai Lee Institute site in Kowloon Tong for residential use. Baptist University had eyed part of the site for a Chinese medicine teaching hospital.

Education-sector lawmaker Ip Kin-yuen, Hong Kong Baptist University Faculty and Staff Union, HKBU Students' Union, the Land Justice League and Hong Kong Critical Geography Group signed a joint statement on the issue.

They urged the government to reveal the details of its plan, launch a "real" consultation and keep the land for government, institute and community use.

They also asked that the future use of the site be decided in a transparent and fair way.

A two-month consultation runs until mid-April. The Town Planning Board will then make a decision.

The Students' Union reiterated its threat to go on strike if the board endorses the housing plan. Students' Union president Michelle Fung Ching-ki said there is a campaign to write to the board. So far, more than 2,000 letters have been received.

The union is planning a protest and may even boycott lessons if the rezoning gets the green light. "But we have no concrete plans for [a strike] and will further consider it after looking at the results," Fung said.

Chan Sze-chi of the staff union said he supports the planned strike of the students and teachers.

Ip said he is concerned the government may have neglected the need for land in the education sector, and may turn more sites meant for educational use, such as Queen's Hill in Fan Ling, into residential use. He hopes to meet with Secretary for development Paul Chan Mo-po and other parties before the consultation ends.

Meanwhile, the teaching staff association said the university is seeking legal advice and looking into the possibility of getting a judicial review.
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Old March 19th, 2013, 12:50 PM   #1598
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Kuk under fire as poles block road to village
The Standard
Thursday, March 14, 2013





Choi Yuen Tsuen activists have accused the Heung Yee Kuk of reneging on a promise to grant them road access when they were relocated to a village in Shek Kong.

Several metal traffic stoppers have been erected in the middle of the road, preventing lorries carrying construction material from reaching the site.

Signs attached to some of the poles say "Private land, no occupancy."

In February 2011, kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat revealed that the ownership of the road was resolved as "a kind donor" had bought the passage.

"I don't know why the situation has changed suddenly," said a villager surnamed Lo. "I thought Lau had already promised us that the question of ownership was resolved."

For his part, Lau admitted that negotiations have bogged down as new parties are involved.

He hopes talks can resume soon. "It is getting more and more messy," Lau said.

The villagers were forced to leave their homes in 2010 because of the construction of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link. With the compensation they received, the villagers bought a site in Yuen Long to relocate the village and have been living in temporary tenant houses since May 2011.

But ownership of the roads has been a niggling problem despite Lau's pledge to help the villagers.

Choi Yuen Village Support Group member Chu Hoi-dick said contractors have been told to leave at least four times since villagers started building their new homes last year.

"The most recent case happened on Tuesday," Chu said. "Some men asked the operator of our excavator to leave as it was private land.

"Unlike urban areas, roads in the New Territories can be owned by private owners. Despite Lau's pledge, clearly someone is ignoring what he said."

Chu said three landlords held the ownership of roads closest to Choi Yuen Tsuen.

"The living conditions in the tenant houses are not ideal, with water leaking in kitchens and toilets," Chu said.

"I feel sorry for them and I really fear they may not be able to complete building their homes even after the railway construction is finished [in 2015]."

According to the Lands Registry, the roads closest to the village are spread out and owned by three landlords - Glory Sea Investment, Charming Star Properties and a group of three individual owners.

A man named Kwan said he was ordered to set up the stoppers. "It was outsourced work and I know nothing about it," he said.
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Old March 21st, 2013, 06:42 AM   #1599
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Lucky escape for worker
The Standard
Thursday, March 21, 2013



A construction worker had a lucky escape yesterday when a wooden ladder caught an 8.5-meter concrete beam that toppled over - preventing him from getting crushed - at a site in Yau Ma Tei.

Tsang Hing-chung, 36, still suffered fractures to his left arm and facial injuries after being struck and buried by broken-off chunks from the beam and other debris.

Three other workers and the operator of a nearby shop rushed to his aid, though they had to wait for firemen to free Tsang.

He was taken to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in a conscious state, saying he was very grateful the ladder was there at the time.

Tsang remained in a critical condition last night. The three other workers were not injured.

The workers were carrying out renovation work on the ground floor of a six-story building at the junction of Temple Street and Kansu Street when the incident occurred at around 11am.

The shop operator, named Wong, said he heard a loud sound when chunks from the beam crashed. He said he turned around and saw the workers using their hands to remove the debris, "so I went over to help them."

He added: "The worker was trapped for about 20 minutes before he was freed by firemen."

The tenement, which has been under renovation for the past seven months, and the area nearby was temporarily cordoned off by police.

Inspectors from the Buildings Department also arrived to check the safety of the building and confirmed that the tenement is structurally safe. The beam was not an illegal structure, they added.

Independent engineer Chan Chi-ming, head of the construction department at the Institute of Vocational Education (Tsing Yi), said if the beam was not part of the original structure of the tenement, the incident will not affect its structural safety.

The dangers of renovation work on old buildings became a matter of public concern when a 55-year-old Ma Tau Wai building under repair collapsed and killed four people in 2010.
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Old March 22nd, 2013, 06:40 AM   #1600
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Kuk under fire as poles block road to village
The Standard
Thursday, March 14, 2013



An unnecessary rural row
The Standard
Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The quarrel over Choi Yuen Village should have been over many months ago, after the village was cleared to give way to the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link.

But it's not. Instead, the former residents accuse the Heung Yee Kuk of reneging on a promise to grant them road access to a new village that they are going to build in Shek Kong.

Some even broke down in tears while complaining someone had put up poles to block the road owned by others.

It's a total mess. The situation shouldn't have deteriorated like that.

All those who have played a role in the matter deserve strong rebukes. First up is Heung Yee Kuk chairman Lau Wong-fat, who had implied a kind- hearted rural leader had solved the road access problem by donating a crucial 150-meter section to the Kuk for the villagers' use.

Who was that kindly benefactor? Lau never said - but gossip in political circles all suggested it was him.

The Kuk chief sounded very confident in the past, but he should at least speak up now to warn people if he can't the persuade the other landlords owning the remaining 350-meter section to allow access to the new village site.

If Lau's failure to mediate isn't a sign he's losing influence in his territory, it would be because of what he calls the arrogance of the newcomers that local villagers find hard to swallow, despite the HK$500,000 offer in exchange for access.

The government compensation for the Choi Yuen villagers was exceptionally generous. While it's still doubtful whether all of them will ultimately settle and resume farming in Yuen Kong, time doesn't really seem to be pressing.

Had it been so - as they claimed at a press conference - they should have sounded it out much earlier.

Two years have passed, during which Choi Yuen concern group chairwoman Ko Chun-heung and others should have been well aware of the complicated issues involved. They couldn't say they knew nothing about it, having lived in the New Territories for years.

Prior to cutting a deal to buy the current 180,000-square-foot Yuen Kong site for farming, the Choi Yuen residents and their lawyers should have clarify all the legal implications involved in the purchase, with road access being an indispensable part of the land document.

So, why did they allow the omission in the first place?

Government officials should be given a strong slap too. An astronomical sum of HK$2 billion has been paid to compensate the Choi Yuen villagers and, at the height of the row two years ago, efforts were also made to involve the Kuk in helping to find a suitable site for the villagers to rebuild their homes.

But had the question of road access ever occurred to the government officials? They should be blamed if it had not, after having spent so much money.

Nevertheless, private property ownership must be respected as this is a cornerstone of Hong Kong's values.

It made sense for Lau and Pat Heung Rural Committee chairman Tsang Hin- keung to call on Ko to treat the road owners with respect. Splashing out HK$500,000 and pounding the table won't solve the problem.
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