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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Disco Bay fiasco won't be repeated
Michael Ng, Hong Kong Standard
May 19, 2005

Better town planning, greater transparency make it unlikely land abuse will recur, says Tsang



The Discovery Bay project deviated from its original 1976 concept of a holiday resort and residential and commercial development to grow into a first-home community, without planning approval.STAFF PHOTO

Another Discovery Bay type fiasco - in which land designated for one purpose is used for another - is unlikely, given the increasing maturity and transparency in town planning, Chief Secretary for Administration Donald Tsang said Wednesday.

He was responding to a report by the Legislative Council Public Accounts Committee, which stated that the project had deviated from its original 1976 concept of a holiday resort and residential and commercial development to grow into a first-home community, without the approval of the then Executive Council.

"Whether the then land authority should have judged the changes of the development at Discovery Bay as representing a fundamental change from the original concept and submitted them to the then Executive Council for endorsement is a matter of interpretation,'' Tsang told Legco.

To remedy the matter, Tsang said the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau had already sought Exco's endorsement for what had taken place in the Discovery Bay development.

"As our town-planning system has become mature, with a clear process for preparing statutory plans and channels for hearing public views, and as a system of enhanced accountability and transparency is now in place, it is unlikely that the experience of the Discovery Bay development will recur elsewhere,'' he said.

He noted that the Lands Department has already implemented active steps, as suggested by the Public Accounts Committee, to deal with the land encroachment problem.

According to the report, the Lands Department has not yet set up the boundaries of the Discovery Bay site, even though an adjoining 41,200 square meter government site has been occupied without authorization for more than 20 years.

This mistake, along with the unapproved amendment in the Discovery Bay development concept, has cost the government HK$160 million in lost potential revenue from uncharged land premiums, the audit commission report revealed last October.

But no penalties have been imposed on the developer, HKR International.

In January, former Chief Secretary for Administration Sir David Akers-Jones, who was also Secretary for the New Territories during the 1970s, revealed that the government of the day had allowed the developers to change the project's concept because it was concerned that the land could fall into the hands of a Moscow bank controlled by the former Soviet Union.

Singaporean businessman Edward Wong, the original landlord for the Discovery Bay development, had primarily intended to develop the area into a resort, with financing to be provided by several banks, including the Moscow Narodny Bank (MNB).

But when Wong went bankrupt in 1973, the Lantau project was put into liquidation and all local investors withdrew.

MNB, which had lent Wong HK$1.6 billion, sued him for payment in bankruptcy proceedings before the High Court, claiming ownership over his company, Hong Kong Resorts.

HKR International chairman Cha Chi-ming took over the failed project.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Bay watch
DB's evolution is a story of exuberant growth and an enviable island lifestyle

13 September 2006
South China Morning Post

DISCOVERY BAY is not a Hong Kong first. Sea Ranch was the original self-contained luxury enclave on Lantau. But while Hutchison Whampoa's holiday resort, completed in 1979, ran into massive debt and legal wrangling (and is now a ghost town visible to hydrofoil passengers on their way to Macau), Hong Kong Resort's Discovery Bay has evolved into yet another remarkable Hong Kong success story.

The young town has expanded over the years - receiving a huge boost in 2000 with the opening of bus routes to the airport - and keeps sprawling along Lantau's northeast coast. Indeed, there seems to be no end to its development possibilities.

When Discovery Bay made its market debut in 1982 with Phase One, houses and flats sold out at record speed. Subsequent sales over the years have done equally well and, with the Hong Kong economy humming along, the market prospects for Discovery Bay are expected to stay bright.

When Hong Kong Resort came up with the Lantau concept in 1976, it struck a deal with the government to create a public holiday resort. The plan later morphed into an upmarket private residential development, but not without some controversy over land usage. Nevertheless, Discovery Bay retains a compelling resort character, with more exclusivity than was originally envisaged. And as exclusivity became a greater selling point in the 1980s and 1990s, its fortunes soared.

Ann Chan, director of Discovery Bay estate agent EPS, says: "The rental market is very active, especially those in the HK$15,000 to HK$35,000 price range. Discovery Bay remains great value for buying and delivers stable returns from units for rent. It offers an outstanding, safe environment with excellent property management."

Roenel Turner of Lifestyle Homes says the market is gathering pace after a slow spell. "People are away on holidays and many buildings are undergoing external renovations," she said. "Once properties are renovated their value could increase by as much as 20 or 30 per cent. We are finding the market picking up after the high summer lull, with people trying to settle in as schools open. We are also seeing a rise in renting and buying.

"More Hong Kong people want to move to Discovery Bay. They are attracted by the resort lifestyle, the large open spaces and the fact they can get much more for their money here than in Hong Kong. Discovery Bay offers all types of accommodation, from studio apartments to garden houses with private swimming pools."

Through good timing, skilful marketing and word of mouth, Discovery Bay has become home to one of Hong Kong's most dynamic property markets. It is also one of the city's most multicultural communities. The developer believes there are nationals from at least 30 countries living here. One resident claimed he had seen even more than that number on the No 4 bus to Greendale Village.

Discovery Bay has a population of about 15,000, which is expected to eventually reach 25,000. Many airline pilots, cabin crew, aviation engineers and air traffic controllers live here to take advantage of the town's proximity to the airport, with buses running there every 30 minutes.

Discovery Bay is also home to bankers, brokers and traders who commute by ferry to Central. The quiet lifestyle, a world away from the frenetic city, appeals to people from all walks of life, from BlackBerry-wielding venture capitalists to Bible-clasping missionaries.

Discovery Bay - "Yu King Wan" in Cantonese, "DB" to locals and expats - boasts an enviable location. It is on the northeastern coast of Lantau and spans several square kilometres on two bays, Tai Pak Wan and Yi Pak Wan. It is also close to Disneyland (although the journey there is a dog-leg of bus and MTR). Many of the residents get to enjoy the nightly fireworks display over the theme park.

The Bautista family is fairly representative of the Discovery Bay community. Hong Kong-born Filipino Andrew, a professional musician, and his Australian wife Jasmine, have lived here for 2½ years and they like the lifestyle. "We love the clean air and all the greenery," Mrs Bautista says.

"And the club facilities are terrific. It's an awesome place for our son to be growing up in. It's a very friendly, inclusive community."

Local historian Arthur Hacker is part of DB history, having lived here since 1989. One reason he chose Discovery Bay was for its abundance of space.

"It's also affordable and everything works here, just about. A friendly place, but I don't socialise if I can help it," he growls, half in jest. "I can recommend DB to anyone who likes babies and dogs."

There are 13 development phases, with properties ranging from low-rises with gardens in Beach Village to grey high-rise tower blocks in Greenvale Village (Phase Nine). Each phase seems to set a new standard.

The recently built Siena One and Siena Two are reputed for their opulence, and even these are being topped by the new Chianti complex, which is being marketed as uncompromising luxury with the "Mediterranean ambience" of the South China Sea.

According to HKR International, the parent company of Hong Kong Resort, "the sales launch of Chianti, Discovery Bay's Phase 13 upmarket residential project, in March this year, was an overwhelming success, selling some 200 units in a short period, with an average selling price standing high at HK$5,800 per square foot."

But this subtropical paradise is not without its issues. Last year, HKR started renovating the plaza, DB's community and commercial hub, with intent to transform it into a "coastal leisure and entertainment landmark".

The construction work has meant an extended closure of almost all the plaza restaurants. Many residents are grumbling, but they may be in quite a different frame of mind when they see all the new alfresco dining options, among other enhancements, when the work is eventually completed.

The cost of transport is a recurring subject with residents. DB is served solely by Discovery Bay Transit Services (buses) and Discovery Bay Transportation Services (ferries), both subsidiaries of developer HKR. The ferry ride to Central is Hong Kong's most expensive.

And then there is the occasional whine about errant golf-cart drivers.

But overall, Discovery Bay's problems do not amount to much for what is a thriving community with young roots and plenty of room to grow.

Plans are also proceeding for the development of a shopping mall, a hotel resort with spa facilities and a new ferry pier in Yi Pak Wan.

Construction has begun on a private "through-train" school operated by the English Schools Foundation (ESF).

Ms Turner of Lifestyle Homes says: "The new ESF school, due for completion in 2008, will affect the market. More families will be moving in here and we expect this to have an impact on sales and leasing."

The range of amenities at Discovery Bay is remarkable and includes a man-made beach with imported sand, a 27-hole golf course, a marina and an astro-turf football pitch.

If you want a change of scenery without getting on a ferry, you have Tung Chung and its three shopping malls and multiplex cinema just a 20-minute bus ride away.

"Discovery Bay is a wonderful place on many levels," says Singaporean Sally Conti, a resident and DB landlady for the past 17 years.

"The quality of life here is excellent and there's a great community spirit. It doesn't take long to get very attached to this corner of Hong Kong."
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Higher density living plan at Discovery Bay
Hong Kong Standard
Thursday, March 06, 2008

HKR International (0480) will submit plans to the government to substantially increase the developable area of its Discovery Bay land.

The mid-tier developer has built eight million square feet of homes on the northeastern coast of Lantau since the late 1970s, and has two million sq ft of land in hand.

"But compared with the 69 million square feet of site area in DBay, the plot ratio is as low as 0.18 times," managing director Victor Cha Mou-zing said yesterday. "The district will remain low-density even if we double the plot ratio."

Highrise residential projects usually have a plot ratio of 8.5 to 9 times.

Cha said the proposal requires Town Planning Board approval, and HKRI will talk to the government very soon.

The third phase of HKRI's Coastal Skyline project in in Tung Chung is set for sale in May or June at an average price of HK$4,500 per sq ft, according to general manager for development and marketing Chan Chi-ming.

More units of this phase will have sea views, Chan said, and they will be smaller to cut down the lump-sum cost as home values have surged substantially in the past few months.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Make right move to discover healthier life
The Standard
Monday, February 06, 2012

Discovery Bay on Lantau is an example of the differences between basic sustainable living in rural Hong Kong and green technology being applied in city areas.

For sustainable living to truly take effect, the core issue of a living community must be addressed from the very beginning, like the transport network, irrigation, reduction of energy use and the recycling of waste.

Discovery Bay, less than 30 minutes by ferry from Central, is a community of less than 20,000.

It has restricted the use of cars and other vehicles. Aside from service vehicles for a select few and a limited number of golf carts, transportation for most residents means buses or bicycles. That means air pollution is three times less than on Hong Kong Island roads.

This healthier, safer environment includes children able to roam and ride bicycles or scooters along wide pedestrian pavements and designated paths without any major worry.

Although there remain many hurdles on the road to sustainable living, Discovery Bay has certainly made a significant first step.

Its example does much to show the world that even in an affluent international city like Hong Kong sustainable living does not need to be completely discarded.

So we can take Discovery Bay as an example of the way to go to achieve an eco-friendly way of living.

Yet it is not enough. We must push the sustainable ideal further, taking on measures that target the evil root of our current lifestyle and make the right choices to reduce our carbon footprint as an example for many generations to follow.

Architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon don't always see eye to eye.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Discovery Bay expansion plan angers residents who fear their peaceful lives will be ruined
Developer wants to bring more shops to landmark plaza and build additional housing in two areas
13 May 2016
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Discovery Bay residents are up in arms about a major development plan to expand the neighbourhood’s landmark plaza and create new housing in two areas – a plan they say is not in the community’s best interest and will lead to overcrowding.

Developer Hong Kong Resort Co is set to begin implementing a large-scale plan that will increase the number of retail shops in Discovery Bay Plaza from 100 to 130, as well as relocating and renovating the bus terminus to include 10 per cent more parking spaces for golf carts and 30 per cent more bus bays. Construction will begin later this year and is scheduled to finish in 2021.

The plan also includes building residential developments around Parkvale Village and Nim Shue Wan, which will change the land usage and requires governmental approval.

The proposed developments are slated to create about 1,600 units for roughly 4,000 people, according to applications submitted by Hong Kong Resort Co. The developer submitted two proposals in February to the Town Planning Board.

“What upsets me is that we have something really very good, and what they’re going to do will actually spoil it,” said Edwin Rainbow, a 71-year-old Discovery Bay resident who has lived in Nim Shue Wan for 17 years. “The proposed development would completely change the environment. The population in the area they are going to build is much more intense than the existing part of Discovery Bay.”

During the public consultation period that ended on April 8, the two proposals received a total of 4,404 comments. Hong Kong Resort Co told the Post that about 70 per cent of comments were in support of the developments. The projects were currently at a “preliminary stage” and the approval process would determine when the development started, the company said.

On plaza renovations, the developer said that it hoped to “continuously improve the facilities in Discovery Bay and make it a better place to live in”, as well as “bring in more retail choices for DB residents”.

[District councillor Amy Yung says residents fear the developments will stretch Discovery Bay’s resources. Photo: Dickson Lee]
Island District Councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung said that the majority of residents she had spoken to at various community meetings were against the proposed developments and many of the public submissions in favour of the proposals contained the same comment.

“The developer wants to develop this into a tourist hub ... but Discovery Bay is a low-density residential area. We value our peaceful life here,” Yung said.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Discovery Bay draws expatriate families to thriving plaza and expanding infrastructure
Enclave attracts families to improved travel facilities, community events and a greater range of accommodation
December 2, 2016
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Less than an hour’s ferry ride from Central, Discovery Bay offers a pristine lifestyle to those who love nature and golf.

Developed and managed by HKR International, Discovery Bay , or “DB”, as residents call it, is a large residential development with a shopping mall, a regular ferry service to Central and several restaurants.

DB residents are proud of the enclave’s sense of community. The DB Main Plaza is their focal point and provides a space for community-wide events and activities.

At Lunar New Year, Easter, Dragon Boat Festival or Christmas, for example, family-friendly activities with different themes are also staged there and at Tai Pak Beach.

According to HKR International, the theme for this year’s festive season is “musical Christmas”. The main piazza will be filled with musical delights and the residents and visitors can enjoy their favourite Christmas songs.

The D’ Deck and the Main Plaza have been generously decorated, and live music shows will be held during the festive season.

A Sunday market on December 11 will also feature over 140 booths selling arts and crafts, eco-friendly clothing and baby products that make delightful holiday gifts.

With lots of green, open spaces, biking and footpaths, DB is a preferred residential destination for expatriates seeking resort-style family homes, says Nina Schulte-Mattler, manager at OKAY.com, and a long-time DB resident.

DB offers many playgroups and schools, including international and local options, with a variety of sports and creative activities, including arts and crafts. All these elements cultivate children’s sense of belonging, and allow parents to network with each other, Schulte-Mattler says.

“DB has a conducive environment that enables kids to grow up more independently as opposed to those living in the city,” she says. “Their school is nearby, so they have all their classmates and friends living around them.”

More : http://www.scmp.com/special-reports...rticle/2051052/discovery-bay-draws-expatriate
 
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