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Old October 13th, 2013, 03:43 PM   #1661
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Land-hungry Hong Kong looks underground, as developers eye parks

HONG KONG, Oct 10 (Reuters) - Wild boar and water buffalo are not an image most people associate with one of the world's great global financial centres.

Yet in Hong Kong, where more than 7 million people are packed into just 30 percent of the territory, the green belts, country parks, woodlands and wetlands that take up the rest of the land provide ample space for such animals to roam.

That could be about to change. As officials scour the territory for new places to build, the prospect of going underground, creating man-made islands or developing the city's cherished parks are all among the options being discussed.

One idea is to build a cross-harbour pedestrian corridor - with shops and entertainment facilities along the way - underneath the city's kilometre-wide Victoria Harbour.

Encroaching onto the green spaces has strong support from Hong Kong's powerful property tycoons, who are feeling the heat from a series of tightening measures aimed at reining in prices that have jumped 120 percent since 2008.

Gordon Wu, chairman of developer Hopewell Holdings Ltd and vice president of the Real East Developers' Association, calls the attachment to parks "stupid".

But some business executives say the rural habitats that make up the bulk of the former British colony's roughly 1,100 sq km (425 sq miles) help give the city an edge over rival global finance centres in the eyes of many expatriates.

"They like that you can get out of Central and be up walking in the hills in 15 minutes," said Simon Galpin, director-general of InvestHK, which supports foreign investment in Hong Kong.

Richard Vuylsteke, president of the city's American Chamber of Commerce, said people would not consider the city to be a great place to live if country parks were developed.

"The quality of life has an impact on the quality of business," he said.

WILD BOAR OR CAGE HOMES?

Last year, roughly 13 million people visited Hong Kong's country parks, home to Burmese pythons, Chinese pangolins, civet cats, badgers and muntjac deer.

But the space devoted to wildlife creates a dilemma for authorities trying to find homes for the 230,000 people on a waiting list for public housing in one of the world's most expensive property markets. Officials estimate an additional 470,000 flats will be needed in the next decade.

"Why are boar allowed to wander around while humans are forced to live in cubicle apartments and cage homes?" Wu told local television last month, referring to the stacked wire mesh hutches where some of the city's poorest people live.

"You say country park is the pride of Hong Kong, but I think it is stupid."

New World Development Co Ltd's chairman Henry Cheng Kar-Shun and billionaire Lee Shau Kee, chairman of Henderson Land Development Co Ltd, also see country parks as an ideal solution to the city's housing problem.

The government forecasts it will need to build one new town that would house roughly 600,000 people per decade over the next 30 years due to the continuous inflow of people to the city, both from mainland China and elsewhere.

DOLPHIN OBJECTIONS

Sea reclamation is another option. Hong Kong's 6,800 hectares of reclaimed land - about 6 percent of its territory - already houses 1.9 million people.

Six areas for future reclamation have been proposed by the Development Bureau to potentially create up to a further 3,100 hectares of land.

Another plan on the drawing board is man-made islands close to the city's financial district, where the Development Bureau aims to create up to 2,400 hectares of "extension of urban area" to accommodate large-scale community and industrial facilities.

No further details on the proposed islands are available for now, the Development Bureau told Reuters.

Despite its success, reclamation has declined significantly in the past decade, following a 1997 ordinance that limits further development in Victoria Harbour to preserve the city's famous panorama.

New reclamation projects also often face opposition from residents worried about the impact on the value of sea-view apartments and the blocking of cooling breezes. There are also environmental objections.

"For sea reclamation, the key objection is about the dolphins," CLSA property analyst Nicole Wong said. "But I guess dolphins are more mobile than country parks - how could you relocate animals in country parks?"

GOING UNDERGROUND

With strong public objections against developing country parks and further reclamation, authorities have another idea in mind: move the city underground.

Hong Kong is conducting its first territory-wide study into the feasibility of creating an extensive underground city, with retail outlets, pedestrian links, a sports field and even a columbarium.

"The government is looking into all options that can create space," said Samuel Ng, chief geotechnical engineer at the Civil Engineering and Development Department.

Ng, who is responsible for the study, said by moving facilities such as refuse collection points underground, land could be freed up.

"If we develop it properly, maybe in 10 years time it really becomes a solution option for us," said Ng.

The department said it would identify 15 urban areas for underground development by the end of 2015, with each site covering a surface area of at least 40 hectares - roughly twice the size of Victoria Park, the largest park on Hong Kong Island.

But experts said moving facilities underground will be many times more expensive than surface projects due to higher construction costs. Lengthy studies are also needed on the feasibility of underground projects, and the city's need for housing is urgent.

"They are expensive and it also takes some while," said Bernard Lim, president at Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design. "It's definitely not the immediate answer."
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Old October 14th, 2013, 08:50 PM   #1662
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South China Morning Post
Green groups hike against Hoi Ha development plan
Green groups say plan for village homes near Sai Kung marine park is 'incredibly damaging'
Monday, 14 October, 2013

More than 200 conservationists and villagers voted with their feet yesterday against a plan to build dozens of houses at the Sai Kung coastal village of Hoi Ha.

They took part in a 4.8-kilometre hike in which they also called for an end to the practice of property developers destroying the ecological value of land on the pretence of farming before seeking building permission.

Save Our Country Parks, an alliance of 20 green groups, will submit a petition to the Town Planning Board at the end of next month, when public consultation on where in Hoi Ha houses can be built ends. The draft zoning plan allocated a 2.5-hectare area in the centre of Hoi Ha for development under the small-house policy, which allows indigenous male villagers to build three-storey homes.

The alliance, which organised the hike from Tai Tan village to Hoi Ha, is also calling for a change to conservation laws that do not require landowners to get permission to farm.

"It's being abused now by developers who are buying plots of land and then clearing them of anything of ecological interest on the grounds that they're farming," Friends of Hoi Ha secretary David Newbery said, adding that this had happened to paddy fields in neighbouring Pak Sha O, making it easier for the developers to gain building permission.

Newbery said he was afraid developers would bulldoze land in Hoi Ha before the consultation ended, adding it could happen tomorrow.

Hoi Ha attracts 100,000 visitors a year and overlooks Hoi Ha Marine Park, a site of special scientific interest.

John Wright, secretary of Friends of Sai Kung, said 90 per cent of several dozen plots of land in the drafted zone had been sold for HK$40 million to eight developers. "This is actually a fraud on the government and on the people of Hong Kong," he said.

Friends of Hoi Ha chairwoman Nicola Newbery said the small houses were "incredibly environmentally damaging".

Houses built by indigenous villagers are exempt from many regulations. For example, they do not require sewage systems, only septic tanks.

David Newbery said he was afraid effluent from several dozen new septic tanks could wipe out the 64 species of coral in the marine park.
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Old October 16th, 2013, 07:38 PM   #1663
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
PLA Headquarters continues to be under green scaffolding for renovation :



Taken on 8/5
10/9

image hosted on flickr

walking to the star ferry by turkishraf, on Flickr
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Old October 17th, 2013, 05:48 PM   #1664
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Country parks appear clear in homes row
The Standard
Thursday, October 17, 2013

The development chief says the government has no current plans to tap country parks for housing - something he controversially hinted at previously.

However, Paul Chan Mo-po reiterated that Fan Ling golf course remains potentially viable for residential development.

Chan had sparked a heated debate after asking in his blog whether it is time to designate parts of country parks for homes.

But in reply to a written question by lawmaker Lam Tai-fai, Chan said: "The government currently has no plan to develop country parks for housing purposes."

Regarding the 170-hectare site currently leased to the Hong Kong Golf Club, he said: "The Home Affairs Bureau will commence an overall review on the Private Recreational Lease policy this year.

"The Development Bureau will take into account the relevant review findings when considering the future development potential of the Fan Ling golf course."
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Old October 29th, 2013, 05:35 PM   #1665
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Study blows Sai Kung wind farm off course
CLP Power delays energy project to spend more time on feasibility research
21 October 2013
South China Morning Post

A proposed offshore wind farm off Sai Kung might not see its blades rotating for at least another two years after the city's largest power producer decided to extend a feasibility study into its economic viability and technical design.

The wind farm, proposed by CLP Power for construction near the Ninepin islands, was once said to be the city's most ambitious renewable energy project and was targeted for completion by 2016. But the firm now appears to be taking a more cautious approach to the project.

Richard Lancaster, chief executive of CLP Holdings, the firm's parent company, said the group had already spent 10 years looking into how to build a wind farm in Hong Kong, but it did not want to make a hasty decision.

"The decision has to be taken quite carefully as it is a big investment. We need to make sure the costs are fully understood," he said at the World Energy Congress in South Korea last week.

Lancaster said more solid wind data would be required to confirm the project's economic feasibility, and that a couple more years of study were needed.

The lengthening of the study means the multibillion-dollar project is unlikely to be part of the five-year development plan the company submitted to the government earlier this year.

Construction of the infrastructure for the wind farm would boost the value of the firm's fixed assets, which is the basis on which its maximum permitted profits by the government are calculated. The greater the asset value, the higher the return allowed.

The firm is facing uncertainty ahead of the expiration of the current regulatory regime for the power industry, also known as the Scheme of Control Agreement, in 2018. A decision will likely be made before 2016 on whether the electricity market will be liberalised.

CLP estimated in 2011 that a 200 megawatt wind farm with up to 67 turbines would cost up to HK$7 billion and would lead to a 2 per cent rise in customer tariffs.

Lancaster said he would prefer the wind farm, if it were accepted, be paid for by all the company's electricity users.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 02:43 PM   #1666
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Drivers get pipes apology
The Standard
Monday, October 28, 2013







Development chief Paul Chan Mo-po has apologized for burst waterpipes at Ma Tau Wai.

However Chan said it is merely "coincidental" they occurred during construction work of the Sha Tin-Central MTR extension.

The 38-centimeter saltwater main at Ma Tau Wai Road burst at different locations on September 11 and October 2. Experts blamed aging pipes for the incidents.

Chan apologized in his weekly blog for the inconvenience caused to motorists by road closures following the bursts.

Although they happened close to where MTR Corp is carrying out extension work, the rail company is not to blame.

Pipes in Ma Tau Wai Road have been in use for more than 30 years and a water-diversion project to be completed next month should reduce the chances of such a thing happening again.
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Old November 3rd, 2013, 02:45 PM   #1667
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All at sea
Giant floating platforms that house communities could be the answer to urban overcrowding
1 November 2013
South China Morning Post

There has been much debate on where land can be found to house a growing population in Hong Kong. For communities elsewhere, the need is even more pressing.

With global population density increasing and sea levels expected to rise by as much as 30cm by 2050, many coastal habitats will come under intense pressure. And the answer could be right on the horizon.

"In major cities there's already a lack of space and the next logical step is to make use of water," says Koen Olthuis, founder of Netherlands-based Waterstudio.nl and architect of multiple maritime projects.

"It's just evolution - the elevator made vertical cities of skyscrapers possible, and water is the next step for letting cities grow and become more dense."

More than two-thirds of the Netherlands is prone to flooding, and much of it is below sea-level, which gives its architects and engineers an unusual perspective on man's relationship to water. While he stops short of proposing giant cities at sea, Olthuis thinks the definition of a city should be changing constantly.

Waterstudio.NL's City Apps project tackles urban density and climate change. It was inspired by Olthuis' belief that cities should be more flexible, and approached as a product.

"Smartphones all look the same but they are not, they are personalised with different apps," he says. "We looked at cities and saw they have their own problems, and our floating City Apps simply add to the hardware of a city."

Waterstudio's first project is for the watery Korail slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, where 70,000 people struggle to survive. Its solution - a small floating platform housing a school with 20 iPads fixed to the walls, intended to be used as an internet hub at night - has mostly been built in the Netherlands.

"In slums there are no rules - if you build a house it can be destroyed in a few months by the government rethinking that area, but if that happens then City Apps can be moved," says Olthuis. "We've put the floating platform in Dhaka. We need 14,000 plastic PET bottles to keep one City App floating, so we got the local people to collect the bottles and paid them four to six cents each."

The next City App - this time for sanitation - is planned for Bangkok.

A similar project comes from NLE, another Netherlands-based architectural practice, which has been working with the floating community of Makoko, near Lagos in Nigeria.

Around 100,000 people are thought to live here in stilt houses - largely as a result of massive urban sprawl - but the community lacks schools and infrastructure. NLE's solution is a pyramid-shaped primary floating school built from local bamboo, which is intended as a community hub.

Such socially progressive projects are often spin-offs of lucrative contracts elsewhere. Waterstudio's Five Lagoons Project, a joint-venture between Dutch Docklands and the government of the Maldives, will see an area of about 740 hectares supplied with luxury floating developments.

"We are going to develop five lagoons with different functions, including a resort, a conference hotel and a floating golf course," says Olthuis, though the point of the star item - a luxury Ocean Flower resort of 185 villas - isn't just to tempt tourists.

"By doing this we will learn how to make big green islands, and see how we can then make social housing on the water for local people," says Olthuis.

His long-term goal is to help the 110,000 people in the Maldives' capital city Male, which is barely 1.5 metres above sea level and likely to be submerged in the next 85 years.

"You need this kind of expensive project to fund the future projects to help society," Olthuis says.

Next up is Miami, where 17 floating developments will be built on a large lake. Floating communities aren't always a response to rising sea levels in coastal communities. Non-profit organisation the Seasteading Institute wants to initiate an autonomous offshore community that pushes total freedom and encourages innovation and experimentation beyond the reach of governments.

"We're looking for trailblazers," says the organisation's promotional video. "We believe humanity needs a new, blue frontier where we're all free to explore new ways of living together."

It claims "seasteaders" would only need the kind of money required to live in a big city. The institute is now attempting to raise money for its Floating City project on crowd-sourcing website Indiegogo, and doing fairly well - though it also needs a "host" country.

There's a similar issue over at Freedom Ship International, a Florida-based company that is hoping to raise the US$11 billion needed to build the world's largest vessel.

Designed as a mobile floating platform stretching over 1,600 metres, Freedom Ship - which could set sail renamed as the Global Friend Ship - is designed to host an entire city of up to 100,000.

Just under half that number will reside permanently on the ship, which will make its way slowly around the world's coastal regions over three years.

As it moves, a fleet of ferries and small aircraft (there's an airport on the roof) will take residents to shore - as tourists or businesspeople - and bring tourists onboard to visit the 2.7-million-tonne vessel's casinos, restaurants and businesses. It will have schools, a hospital and a security force.

"It's the first ever floating city," says Roger Gooch, director and vice-president of Freedom Ship International, "but it's too large to go into a port so it will also stay around 15 miles [24 kilometres] offshore in international waters."

Freedom Ship is designed to let people get away from the normal restrictions of global geography and governments, he says.

There's a similar reason behind another offshore entity called Blueseed. A purpose-built floating platform registered in the Bahamas but moored in international waters 22 kilometres from the shores of San Francisco, Blueseed is aimed at international entrepreneurs who can't enter the US (Silicon Valley, in particular) to start companies because of restrictive visa issues.

Offering its occupants - all with a US business or travel visa - daily 30-minute ferry rides to the mainland as well as helicopter trips, Blueseed will begin life next year on a refitted cruise ship, progressing to the custom-built Blueseed Two floating city soon after.

But life at sea isn't just restricted to land-based humans. Olthuis has a vision of a Sea Tree, a multi-storey floating structure similar to an oil rig that could be placed in rivers, lakes and oceans near densely populated cities.

"Instead of creating green areas in the city, make them on the water," he says. "When nature starts to colonise a Sea Tree then birds, animals and insects will use it, too."

Olthuis already has a way to pay for it. "I could see oil companies donating Sea Trees to cities in return for drilling rights," he says.

A Sea Tree in Victoria Harbour? That really would give Hong Kong a new look.
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Old November 5th, 2013, 05:30 PM   #1668
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Construction next to the Space Museum
9/8









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Old November 10th, 2013, 07:03 AM   #1669
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Legco set for battle over inclusion of scenic Sai Kung village in park plan
South China Morning Post
7 November 2013

By bigwa1116 from dcfever :


Green groups yesterday voiced fears that rural strongman Lau Wong-fat would try to amend a bill incorporating a scenic Sai Kung enclave into a surrounding country park after a non-binding motion calling for it to be excluded from the park was passed by lawmakers.

The motion, moved by the Heung Yee Kuk lawmaker and passed by a Legislative Council subcommittee on country parks, calls for Tai Long Sai Wan to remain outside the Sai Kung East Country Park.

Lau said the government was trying to strip away the rights of villagers who say the change would prevent them from building homes on the land.

"It is very regrettable that the government is taking away villagers' rights," Lau said. "It is setting a very bad precedent, which will harm social harmony."

Tai Long Sai Wan is one of three areas covered by the bill that the government wants to incorporate into three different country parks.

Dr Michael Lau Wai-neng, global conservation body WWF's senior programme head of local biodiversity and regional wetland, said he feared Lau would seek to amend the bill.

"If Tai Long Sai Wan, which has attracted so much public concern, is not included in the country park, I am worried what will happen to other land in the future," he said.

The motion passed 7-4. Supporters included Liberal Party leader James Tien Pei-chun and Elizabeth Quat of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong. Opponents included the Civic Party's Kenneth Chan Ka-lok and People Power's Albert Chan Wai-yip.

The move to protect areas of private land within or surrounded by country parks arose from a row over unauthorised excavation at Tai Long Sai Wan. Villagers say that if the coastal enclave becomes part of the park, they may be unable to exercise their rights to build homes under the "small house" policy.

But Michael Lau said that even if the land became part of a country park, villagers could still apply to build houses there. The only difference was that the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, instead of the Lands Department, would review the application.

"In the last decade, two applications have been filed to build houses in country parks. Both have been approved," he said.

The Conservancy Association's assistant campaign manager Roy Ng Hei-man said many of the subcommittee members appeared close to rural leaders.
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Old November 11th, 2013, 01:41 PM   #1670
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High Point 曉尚
http://www.high-point.com.hk/index_tc.html

31 stories, numbered G/F, 1-3/F, 5-12/F, 15-23/F, 25-33/F and 35/F
188 Tai Po Road, Sham Shui Po
Estimated Completion : 30 September 2014

10/5

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Old November 12th, 2013, 08:36 AM   #1671
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Towns to be hit by boom in elderly
Government urged to plan ahead as areas with fastest-growing number of residents over 65 face a shortage of homes and welfare facilities
12 November 2013
South China Morning Post

Satellite towns built since the 1970s will bear the brunt of the boom in Hong Kong's elderly population over the next five years, with the number of residents over 65 expected to grow by more than a third.

The rates of growth in the number of elderly in Tuen Mun, Tai Po and Sha Tin will range from 34 to 41 per cent, compared to just 20 per cent in older districts. The figures emerged from a South China Morning Post analysis of the latest projections by the Census and Statistics Department.

Despite the likely growth indicated by the government's own figures, only five of the 11 sites earmarked in the policy address for the construction of new homes for the elderly this year were in the three towns.

Others are in Sham Shui Po, Tsuen Wan, Yuen Long and Sheung Shui.

Also, little is known about the economic background of those turning 60 or 65 by 2018.

The Post approached the Labour and Welfare Bureau, Development Bureau, Education Bureau, and Census and Statistics Department, but none could give such details.

Chairman of the Elderly Commission Alfred Chan Cheung-ming said the government needed to collect more data and plan ahead to address the issue.

"For better programme planning, we will need to know which districts will face more demand for elderly nursing homes and day care centres.

"The data will also give information as to which public estates should be retrofitted earlier so the elderly can live in them," Chan said. Fourteen per cent of Hong Kong's population is aged 65 or over, a figure expected to rise to 30 per cent by 2040.

A Labour and Welfare Bureau spokeswoman said the possibility of reserving land in new developments and redevelopments for social welfare facilities would continue to be explored.

She added that in the medium term, the bureau hoped to convert vacant government premises, schools and public housing flats into such facilities.

More than half of the city's elderly live in private housing.

Around a third live in public rental flats, built and maintained by the Housing Authority and Housing Society respectively. Another 17 per cent live in subsidised flats under the Home Ownership Scheme.

The Housing Authority, which manages most public flats, said it did not have figures to show how many flats had been modified for the elderly.

But a spokeswoman said about 5,000 flats in 50 estates had warden services and emergency alarm systems. The authority would also convert bath tubs into showers with a grab rail free of charge for elderly tenants upon request, as well as for families with members over 60.

A Housing Society spokesman said about 22,000 residents living in its public flats were aged 65 or over and it had helped 106 of them retrofit their homes.

Lifts were also built in the Kwun Lung Lau estate in Kennedy Town and the Ming Wah Dai Ha estate in Shau Kei Wan.
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Old November 15th, 2013, 12:11 PM   #1672
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RTHK grilled over new HK$6 billion home
12 November 2013
South China Morning Post

RTHK yesterday faced a grilling from lawmakers eager to find out why the construction costs of its planned new headquarters have almost quadrupled to HK$6.1 billion in four years, from an original estimate of HK$1.6 billion.

The public broadcaster's chief, Roy Tang Yun-kwong, said estimates made in 2009 did not take into account the new tasks imposed on RTHK by the government, including the launch of three new television channels, a digital audio service and a media asset management service.

The new tasks, coupled with a larger proposed site in Tseung Kwan O, explain why the project cost increases outpaced inflation in construction, Tang told a Legislative Council panel.

Susie Ho Shuk-yee, a permanent secretary from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau, said it was difficult for RTHK to expand its services in its current 44-year-old headquarters in Kowloon Tong.

But lawmakers demanded a more detailed cost estimate, as the government seeks funding approval from the Legco finance committee and its subcommittee as early as next month.

"It was rather too expensive," Democratic Party lawmaker Sin Chung-kai said.

Christopher Chung Shu-kun, from the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, asked for a more detailed explanation of the cost increase. But in response officials only reiterated the floor area changes to the project.

The new broadcasting house will be built on a 30,600 square metre plot, and the finished nine-storey building will provide a net operational floor area of some 27,660 square metres - about 77 per cent larger than RTHK's current home.

About 30 per cent of the floor space - or 8,090 square metres - will be used for staff offices. Specialist facilities such as archives and libraries will occupy about 20 per cent of the floor area, as will facilities for digital terrestrial television broadcasting. Another 7 per cent of the building will be used as the news centre. Its proposed size - 1,910 square metres - is almost seven times larger than current news facilities.

Upon completion of the project in 2018, RTHK will produce its own television news reports and 4,000 to 6,000 hours of television programmes a year - about five to eight times its current productivity, Tang added.
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Old November 17th, 2013, 02:13 PM   #1673
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Legislators must reject funding for RTHK's extravagant new headquarters
Albert Cheng says added services and inflation cannot possibly account for the nearly quadrupling of the estimated construction costs
15 November 2013
South China Morning Post

Christopher Chung Shu-kun, the foul-mouthed legislator and member of the pro-establishment Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, exposed his crassness on Tuesday at a Legislative Council session to discuss the construction costs of the new RTHK headquarters.

When Chung realised the project would cost up to HK$6.1 billion, he immediately used the occasion to mock Ricky Wong Wai-kay, founder of Hong Kong Television Network (HKTV), for seeking to launch a television station with a personal net worth of "mere tens of billions". Chung used extremely rude words to ridicule Wong for overestimating his financial capacity.

Chung's outburst was not really surprising and did not divert attention from the important issue at hand - the overspending of the government-run broadcaster.

The planned cost of the infrastructure alone has shot up from the estimated HK$1.6 billion four years ago to the present HK$6.1 billion. And this is just the hardware and does not include the software such as human resources and operational expenses.

Public entities are often not as well run as private enterprises, but no matter how you look at the possible cost of building a new RTHK headquarters, which is supposed to provide radio and television services, the HK$6.1 billion price tag is totally unreasonable.

One of the excuses provided by RTHK was that when it projected the cost at HK$1.6 billion in 2009, it didn't include provisions for digital broadcasting, three new television channels and a media asset management service.

But if you look at the set-up of digital broadcaster DBC, which has seven digital channels, its basic infrastructural investment only amounted to HK$100 million, while the planned costs of HKTV's television city was only HK$600 million.

The planned RTHK headquarters will yield approximately 300,000 sq ft of space. Even if we assume construction spending will be extravagant, at HK$3,000 per sq ft, it shouldn't exceed HK$1 billion.

Even though the proposal will include a data centre, the adjusted cost is still excessive.

The planned data centre of Google in Tseung Kwan O is expected to cost about HK$2.4 billion. So if you add up the costs of a data centre, and offices for television and digital services, the total cost should come to somewhere about HK$4 billion.

Let's look at the costs of other television stations. In the early 2000s when TVB set up a new headquarters in Tseung Kwan O, with five free channels, the cost came to HK$1.6 billion. Adding the digital facilities, the bill came to HK$2.2 billion. Phoenix TV's Beijing headquarters, which handles all national production work on the mainland, cost less than HK$1 billion. It all goes to show that no matter how we calculate the cost, it shouldn't come to HK$6.1 billion.

On top of this, there is still the annual operating costs of around HK$600 million, the cost of a news centre, and digital broadcasting, as well as the additional manpower to cope with all these needs.

Both the pan-democrats and the pro-government camps questioned the astronomical construction costs, but so far no one has objected to the project outright. The reason is obvious - no one wants to make enemies of the government media, plus the money will come from the public coffers. It's nothing but a show.

HKTV sought to invest billions to run 30 channels. All production work would have been done locally. Yet, the promising television project still failed to get government approval. Government-run RTHK, with only seven radio channels, digital broadcasting that still has no independent production, and television programmes that are not run round the clock, has the temerity to ask for HK$6.1 billion merely for the building of its headquarters and has seemingly already got the green light from the administration. All this points to one fact - the station will almost certainly turn into a media tool used by the government.

As public representatives, lawmakers should act as gatekeepers and reject the funding request. It's simple: the project isn't good value and it's a waste of public funds.

The scandal-plagued station has to figure out its role and position in the market as it struggles on with low staff morale, an unfair pay structure, disorganised management and a low standard of programming. With all these problems, the station has no right to demand public support for its operation in such an extravagant manner.

As I have always advocated, the only way forward for RTHK is for it to become a genuine public broadcaster to lend a voice to the public, especially the underprivileged.

And, first and foremost, Legco members must not support the RTHK expansion.

Albert Cheng King-hon is a political commentator and a co-founder of DBC.
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Old November 18th, 2013, 07:58 AM   #1674
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Planned villages 'threaten enclave'
18 November 2013
South China Morning Post

Source : http://www.pbase.com/andrew57/


A weather-beaten concrete road leading to remote Pak Lap Wan is the first visible sign of the many things that have gone wrong at the scenic rural enclave in the last five years.

Nestled deep in the southern end of the Sai Kung East Country Park, hikers and campers call it "the Maldives of Hong Kong" for its fung shui woods, coral reefs, soft sands and pristine waters.

But proposed village developments in the remote 6.8-hectare enclave could pose a serious threat to its sensitive ecology, conservation group WWF Hong Kong has warned.

"The village development area is exceptionally large and this is not ideal for Pak Lap as it would cause significant environmental damage," said Dr Michael Lau Wai-neng, head of WWF's biodiversity and regional wetlands programme. "Once the houses are built, this could all be gone."

Now mostly abandoned agricultural land, Pak Lap is one of 54 enclaves across the territory without official planning controls or country-park zoning. These pockets of land lie near country-park boundaries and do not come under the protection of the Country Parks Ordinance.

After illegal works were uncovered in the enclave of Tai Long Sai Wan in 2010, the government announced an ambitious mission to "protect" the 54 enclaves from illegal development by setting aside half of the enclaves - including Tai Long Sai Wan - to be incorporated into surrounding country parks.

The other half - including Pak Lap, which was seen as having less ecological value - were designated as development permission areas (DPAs), meaning they would be open to future development under statutory planning schemes.

Under Pak Lap's current draft zoning plans, village-type developments make up the largest part of the plan.

Up to 79 "small houses" could be built in one zone, putting several species of animals and plants in danger, including at least one rare species of water fern under category-two state protection.

But well before these plans for Pak Lap were laid out by the government, the damage had already been done, mostly under the radar after part of the land was bought by a private developer in 2009.

Since then, illegal developments, deforestation and excavation works have been carried out; streams have been rerouted; and the construction of dams, ditches and artificial ponds have turned parts of the enclave into partial construction sites.

"All this is part of the 'destroy first, develop later' approach to facilitate future development," Lau said. "Letting people build houses here will not do anything to protect the enclave at all."

The lack of public sewage systems to support new villages also means any new houses would have to be treated by on-site systems.

"These systems provide minimal levels of sewage treatment. How can you ensure they will all be regularly maintained?" Lau asked.

Outline zoning plans for two other enclaves - Hoi Ha Wan in the Sai Kung West Country Park, and So Lo Pun in the Plover Cove Country Park - have also been gazetted by the Town Planning Board, and the final public consultation ends on November 27.

Green groups have urged the government to incorporate enclaves into country parks so they can be protected by the ordinance and properly managed.

"Statutory plans are not good enough to protect these enclaves because it would mean the government has lost control of these enclaves. This is bad news because the demand for small houses is infinite," said Paul Zimmerman, a co-convener of the Save Our Country Parks alliance.

Mr Chan, a Sai Kung resident and the owner of the only cafe on Pak Lap Wan Beach, agrees. "The best way is for the government to just take over. That would just make everybody happy, as it wouldn't change anything.

"But I believe green groups and villagers should strike a deal and pressure the government together, and not the reverse - where green groups and the government pressure villagers."

Meanwhile, the fate of Tai Long Sai Wan, the enclave to be incorporated into Sai Kung East Country Park, still hangs in the balance, with the Legislative Council to vote on a motion next month to block the move.

Heung Yee Kuk lawmaker Lau Wong-fat, who tabled the motion, said any incorporation of land into country parks without compensation would infringe on the private-property rights of indigenous villagers.
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Old November 19th, 2013, 04:33 AM   #1675
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Lee offers land for super-size elderly home
The Standard
Tuesday, November 19, 2013



Tycoon Lee Shau-kee has donated to Pok Oi Hospital land in Tuen Mun for a 2,000-bed home for the elderly.

The home, if approved by authorities, would be equivalent to 20 standard facilities for the elderly and shorten waiting time for such services.

Henderson Land revealed that as the land is a gift from its chairman, he will pay the company its estimated value of HK$107 million.

It is now listed as farm land though used as a car park.

The developer also reckons the care home would be up and running with its 2,000 beds by 2107 if a change of land use for 100,000 square feet is approved.

Welfare sector lawmaker Cheung Kwok-chu said the project is a worthy cause and he urged the administration to help Pok Oi through what can be a lengthy land rezoning procedure.

Lee, 85, turned to Pok Oi after the administration rejected previous offers of the land for cheap housing and said Henderson should co-operate with non- governmental organizations.

Pok Oi Hospital has solid experience in hostels for the elderly, and the site is near Pok Oi's Yuen Long headquarters.

Henderson said there could be construction in phases of three blocks for a project that "will help shorten elderly people's waiting time for hostels."

Henderson Land applied in 2009 for permission to build residential blocks on the site, but that was refused by the Town Planning Board.

Pok Oi is now to undertake a feasibility study, which will include site surveying and an assessment of the project's impact on the environment and traffic flows in the area. The site's designation as farm land would also need to be changed before going beyond the preparatory planning stage.

Pok Oi would also need to discuss with the Social Welfare Department the number of beds, the expectation being most would be government-subsidized.

Labour and Welfare Secretary Matthew Cheung Kin-chung said yesterday that Pok Oi Hospital has already submitted to the department an application for a grant from the Lotteries Fund to develop and operate a care home for the elderly.

Such facilities "are in acute demand," he said, and the land donation is to be welcomed.
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Old November 20th, 2013, 04:39 AM   #1676
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New home deal has granny flat included
Novel concept from Housing Society gives priority to buyers who want to live a few floors up from elderly relatives, in special rental units
15 November 2013
South China Morning Post









A new housing project has come up with a novel way of addressing how the city can care for its ageing population - it will give priority to buyers who plan to rent a flat in the same block for their elderly relatives.

The media was given a first glimpse of Harmony Place in Shau Kei Wan yesterday. It is the brainchild of the non-profit making Housing Society and is a response to statistics showing that by 2041, people aged 65 or over will account for a third of the population, as opposed to the current 14 per cent.

"This is the first time we have launched a project that is specially designed to cross the generations. We hope to encourage more buyers to take care of their parents or parents-in-law," said the society's assistant general manager Daniel Mak Yiu-man.

As well as selling 214 flats, Harmony Place will also offer 60 flats for rental. Specially designed with the elderly in mind, these flats are located on the sixth to 11th floors, where extra-wide corridors allow space for wheelchairs. Inside the flats, there are support rails and safety alarms, sprinklers, fire alarms and phones linking directly to their relatives' flats elsewhere in the building.

To make it onto the priority list, buyers will be required to declare that they have a close relationship with the elderly relative who will be renting.

Mak said: "In order to encourage the norm of living with the elderly, we tend to impose less stringent requirements in this project. The elderly are not necessarily their parents. They can be relatives who need long-term health care."

While declining to disclose the selling price and rental level, Mak said they would be set according to the market. The show flat in Cheung Sha Wan is open to the public from today ahead of the sales launch later this year.

Mak said only one purchase per buyer would be allowed, and no purchases by companies would be permitted.

Data released by real estate agent Centaline shows that second-hand flats from Sun Hung Kai Properties' recently completed iUniQ Residence in Shau Kei Wan are priced from HK$19,463 to HK$21,413 per sq ft.

Despite the high price, real estate agents expected a good market response to the Housing Society project, while refraining from speculating about the selling price.

Larry Chau, a sales manager at Midland Realty, said: "Our firm has received more than 10 inquiries a month about the project over the past few months.

"Many young families are interested in it as they want to live closer to their parents, but it is very difficult to buy or lease two flats in the same building," he added. "As the rental flats are owned by the society, you wouldn't need to worry about any unexpected increase in the rent by 10 to 15 per cent."

Patrick Tsang, senior sales director at Centaline, said the project would draw a lot of interest for its ideas on elderly care. "Also, we haven't had any other new projects in the area on the market for over a year," he added.
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Old November 21st, 2013, 11:30 AM   #1677
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hkskyline View Post
Construction in Tung Chung :
8/10

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Panorama of Tung Chung evening by tamkw525, on Flickr
Visionary buyers to get deep discounts
19 November 2013
South China Morning Post

Nan Fung Development will offer the first batch of 318 units at the Visionary development in Tung Chung at discounts of up to 22 per cent as it seeks to compete for buyers amid a downturn in the property market.

To drum up sales, the developer will offer 10 per cent off for buyers who opt for cash payment, plus 3 per cent of extra discounts and a 9 per cent subsidy to help them meet stamp duty payments.

The average price for the first batch of flats is HK$9,686 per square foot, in line with transaction prices in the secondary market.

"After the discounts, prices will go down to HK$7,600 per square foot, which is 10 per cent below the current transaction prices in the area," said Sammy Po, a director at Midland Realty.

The price per square foot would be 13 per cent below the current average transaction price of HK$7,910 per square foot at Caribbean Coast, a 10-year-old development opposite the Visionary.

A 434 sqft unit is also being offered for HK$3.31 million, or HK$7,646 per square foot.

Po said buyers would only be able to find properties with such price tags in Yuen Long if they were intent on buying a flat in a new project.

He said he expected sales in the secondary market in Tung Chung to come to a standstill as individual owners would be unlikely to offer big price cuts to compete with the developer.

More than 10,000 people visited the Visionary development, which comprises 1,419 units, to view show flats at the weekend.

Developers are racing to offer discounts and sweeteners to speed up sale of new projects after the number of transactions plunged 44 per cent from January to 4,648 last month.
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Old November 25th, 2013, 03:38 AM   #1678
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Mega-project pair rake in the cash
The Standard
Monday, November 25, 2013

Hundreds flocked at the weekend to view show flats for mega-projects The Avenue and The Visionary, with both set to launch this week.

That saw more than HK$615 million frozen in booking fees by the projects, each offering 1,000-plus flats. Prices at both will mirror nearby secondary homes, thanks to hefty discounts.

The Avenue, with 1,096 flats spread over three towers in Wan Chai, saw Sino Land (0083) and Hopewell (0054) net more than 1,800 registrations for the first 220 units, which will go on sale on Wednesday.

The figure, revealed by agents, means more than HK$360 million worth of cashier's checks valued at HK$200,000 each were collected, with buyers offered discounts of up to 17.5 percent.

As for The Visionary, Nan Fung Group told of more than 1,700 registrations for the first 318 flats at the Tung Chung project to become available for sale on Saturday, freezing HK$255 million. Discounts of up to 20.8 percent are being offered at the 1,419-unit, nine-tower project.

Forty new flats were sold in the territory in the past two days, from 82 the previous weekend.

Hutchison Whampoa Property, meanwhile, sold a second 5,706-square-foot house at its seven-home luxury project 28 Barker Road on The Peak. The price tag was HK$538 million.

Also, Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) sold 12 flats at Imperial Kennedy in Western district, with a mainland buyer paying HK$40.94 million for a 1,256 sq ft special unit.

But attractive new projects are turning the secondary market sluggish. Centaline Property Agency stayed flat with nine weekend deals at the 10 major estates tracked, while Midland Realty recorded 12, down from 14.

Separately, a pharmacy operator will pay HK$738,000 per month for a 1,400 sq ft shop on 36-44 Nathan Road. The current lessee, a photographic and camera retailer, paid HK$380,000.
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Old December 3rd, 2013, 03:39 AM   #1679
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Villagers take park protest to Tamar
The Standard
Tuesday, December 03, 2013



Sai Wan villagers are camping outside government headquarters at Tamar to protest against a proposal to include the scenic Tai Long Sai Wan area in Sai Kung East Country Park.

The villagers' move came with Heung Yee Kuk lawmaker Lau Wong-fat set to move a motion amendment in the Legislative Council tomorrow seeking to scuttle the government's plan.

Six villagers, who set up camp in the morning, said the protest will last until tomorrow. They said they will try their best to persuade some pan-democratic lawmakers to support Lau's motion.

Sai Wan village head Lai Yan said he and the others are there in support of Lau's motion.

He said many people have not clearly understood why villagers strongly oppose the government's proposal. "If Tai Long Sai Wan is included in the country park, it is possible that villagers will not be allowed to launch maintenance works on the roads in the area," Lai said.

In an ironic twist, pan-democrats support the government's plan, while the bulk of the pro- establishment parties, including the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, voiced their support for Lau.

Lau said the incorporation of Sai Wan into country park land would take away indigenous villagers' rights, which include a right to build small houses on ancestral land.

"It is unfair for the government to incorporate Sai Wan into the country park, as such a move would deprive villagers of private property rights," Lau said.

He added the kuk will support the villagers' fight against the government's proposal, but would not encourage others to join the camp protest.

Civic Party lawmaker Kwok Ka-ki said incorporating Tai Long Sai Wan into the country park is the only way to protect the area.

On Sunday, more than 100 hikers and supporters walked through Tai Long Sai Wan in a symbolic gesture to protect the scenic area.
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Old December 4th, 2013, 04:56 AM   #1680
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Visionary, Tung Chung

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Under construction.... how high will they go? by antwerpenR, on Flickr
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