(Revision 2014/02/19. Fixed link problems)
The Town Planning Board of Hong Kong SAR government is conducting a public consultation for North East New Territories New Development Areas Planning project. This is a huge project that involves land as big as Kowloon and forever alter the outlook and the fate of Hong Kong.
The deadline for submission of comments is 20th Feb 2014.
Villagers and residents living in the affected areas persist to stay and do not want to be evicted. They have formed an alliance group and urge Hong Kongers to send opinions to the board before the deadline to help stop this injustice plan.
How to Submit your Opinion?
If you want convenience and know Chinese, you can fill out an eletronic form prepared by a North East New Territories Development Concern group at http://goo.gl/PAXOqA. [They say personal information they collect is solely used for the submission of the opinion and for keeping in touch with you]
Otherwise, you can email your comment to <email@example.com>, attaching the photos about the beautiful scene of North East.
The alliance group has the following members (* is my translation):
- Kwu Tung North Development Concern Group (古洞北發展關注組)
- Joint Committee of Fanling North Villages and Residents: Against North East New Territories New Development Area * (粉嶺北農村及居民聯席：反對新界東北新發展區!)
- Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling Homeland Defence Alliance* (打鼓嶺坪輋保衛家園聯盟)
- Land Justice League (土地正義聯盟)
The Chinese template letter is prepared by the alliance group (translated by me into English. Note: it is better to modify it and add your own words)
To Town Planning Board firstname.lastname@example.org,
For making representations
Draft Plan: S/KTN/1 and S/FLN/1
I am a citizen of Hong Kong. I am firmly against the Northeast New Territories (Kwu Tung North and Fanling North) Development Plan with following reasons:
- The plan is not necessary, but induces enormous social cost and ecological cost to Hong Kong. Instead, the government should make good use of existing vacant government land, and fix the housing and land policies that biases towards real estate industry.
- The plan destroys the original living and community networks of local residents. Tens of thousands of villagers will lose their homes. It will be the largest eviction of Hong Kong for the last 30 years.
- The plan sets a precedent for more development of more rural areas in New Territories. Real estate developers, operating “destroy first, develop later” development model, have already acquired and cornered lots of rural agricultural land which is precious natural resources of Hong Kong. Those tycoons will be the only and the biggest winner of the plan.
- The plan reduces green belt and destroys natural eco-buffer. The Northeast area is the only remaining green belt between Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The plains in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and Fanling, linked by Long Valley, form an important line of defense to prevent the city from over-development. From the planning perspective, Hong Kong should protect this natural ecosystem.
My suggestions are:
- Withdraw the Northeast New Territories Development Plan. Maintain the existing planning purposes, and strengthen the protection of green areas and agricultural land.
- Protect and develop local industry and agriculture for diversification of industries in Hong Kong. Preserve the heritage of rural lifestyle for rural-urban symbiosis and sustainable development.
致 : 城規會tpbpd@pland.gov.hk
圖則編號 : S/KTN/1 及 S/FLN/1
All words after this line are my comments and are unrelated to the villagers’ groups above.
The project has many cons. For example:
- It eradicates a large piece of green belt that separate Shenzhen from Hong Kong.
- It eradicates homes of many villagers who do not want to be moved at all.
- It kills primary industry in Hong Kong, forcing Hong Kongers to depend more on imported food.
- It kills many living beings.
- It increases the load of already-overloaded public transportation that operates between New Territories and the downtown.
- It creates wall effects to old districts.
- It is a major step on accelerating the weakening of one-country-two-system and the assimilation of Hong Kongers, and should be stopped, localists predict.
More Template Letter
In addition to the opinions in the template letter, here is a template letter which I have copied from the Internet (sorry, I do not have the source for credit) and have added more reasons for Sheung Shui residents for the last consultation conducted in Sept 2012:
To whom it may concern,
I am writing to oppose to the future direction and decision made by your department and the Hong Kong Government on the North East New Territory New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study.
I do NOT want my living style to be forced. The development is against the living style of the North District which is long a quiet community in harmony. I grew up in Sheung Shui and have been living in Sheung Shui for over twenty years. It was once a peaceful and quiet community. But in recent, the increasing number of mainland Chinese travelers and ruthless parallel importers has already disrupted the harmony in this district. A further development of the North District into a metropolis will substantially change the living style of the North District residents. I stay in Sheung Shui because I want a quiet life after work. If I want a city life and economic activities I would choose to live in the urban area.
2) I do NOT want Shek Wu Hui to be surrounded and trapped by tall buildings in Fanling North. First, this neighbourhood relies on wind coming from Sheung Shui Wa Shan in order to breath. According to the proposal, tall buildings will be built along Ng Tung River, which is on the path of the wind. Thus, the tall buildings can more or less cause wall effect to Shek Wu Hui. Given that many places in Hong Kong, such as Wan Chai old district, already suffer from the wall effect, I suspect that whether if the solution in the proposal that leaving gaps between buildings can avoid wall effect. Besides, the proposal fails to provide a case in Hong Kong where the wall effect has successfully been avoided. Second, in the proposal, a highway will be constructed along the mentioned tall buildings. Assuming that the mentioned wall effect can be avoided, wind from Shui Wa Shan will bring pollution produced by the highway traffic to Shek Wu Hui. Lastly, the tall buildings block Shek Wu Hui residents from having the mountain viewof Wa Shan. The proposal again fails to mention possible bad impacts to this neighbourhood. A resident of Wah Fu Estate personally told me his experience about the wall effect from Bel Air on him. He said, before Bel Air existed, during summer time, when he opened the flat door wind blew into his flat so that he did not need to turn on air conditioner most of the time. Now, the wind blowing into his flat during summer has been weaken after Bel Air has been constructed. Even there is a hole in the building of Bel Air, and there are no other buildings besides Bel Air, the wall effect still affect Wah Fu Estate. The proposal tall buildings group in Fanling North, from the point of view of Shek Wu Hui, is located between Tsui Lai Garden and Woodland Crest. Together they work as a wall that block the wind and the mountain view from Wa Shan. Therefore, it is best not to carry out the proposal.
3) I do NOT think the current transportation and the public utility have sufficient capacity to support the increased population. The proposed project only provides traffic solution for the North District. But it ignores the fact that the majority of job positions are in the urban areas. Every working day, Tolo Highwayis jammed with cars going to Hong KongIsland. Every day, the train is jammed not only with local Hong Kongpeople going to work but also mainland Chinese travelers and ruthless smugglers. The traffic system between the North District and the urban area is already overloaded. Adding more people to the North District will further overload the traffic system. Even one third of the proposal population travel to Hong Kong Island to work, it is already 15000/3 = 3000 more people. The proposed plan fails to address this problem. Recently, CY Leung, the Chief Executive of Hong Kong, has mentioned that it is possible to increase public housing and its population density. This will further increase the burden of the current transportation. Obviously, even the Chief Executive does not consider the plan thoroughly. Therefore, it is best not to carry out the proposal.
4) I do NOT want the proposed area to be developed with facilities that focus on the needs of mainland Chinese people. Reading from an article from the mainland newspaper “南方都市”, there is a plan to build a mega mall with cinemas, high-class franchise stores, restaurants in Kwu Tung, mostly to serve mainland Chinese travelers and Shenzhen residents. Hong Kong already has many shopping and leisure places in the urban areas, such Tsim Sha Tsui, Mong Kok, Causeway Bay, and will have more shopping and leisure places in West Kowloonand in Kai Tak Airport. There should be sufficient places for mainland travelers to fulfill their shopping desires. However, for local residents living in the North District, we rather want a quiet and peaceful life, not another mega mall that is nothing to do with daily living and drive up the price of consumer prices.
5) I do NOT want the proposed area to be developed into a luxury housing district, where ordinary Hong Kong people will NOT be able to afford. By building such luxury housing district, the resident who lives there will be forced to move out of the area inevitably. This follows that the local agricultural, food production and restaurant industries will be destroyed for the people who are running them are forcibly removed. I would like the territories to develop and remain a more localized and sustainable area.
6) I do NOT want the natural environment of the North East Territories to be destroyed in order to make space for such real estate project which does NOT serve the general interest of the Hong Kong people and see the right of the wild lives in the area to be robbed by this unnecessary project.
7) I do NOT think it is worth to dislocate the Hong Kong people who have already lived there for a long time. They can make an honest and decent living without the help of the government. And at the same time, they have contributed enormously to the unique identity of Hong Kongas a city. The consequence to that is these people will need government’s social welfare support because it will be difficult for them to find the same kind of jobs they have been doing. Therefore, they will become unemployed. And the next stop, they will be at the office of the Social Welfare Department.
8) I do NOT think the proposed plan has the robust argument to suggest reserving a large amount of land for building new schools for the people from mainland Chinese who will be living in the luxury housing district. I do NOT think our taxes and resources should be used to subsidize the mainland Chinese who have no rights to use or benefit from our taxes and resources. The plan obviously aims at attracting and catering the area to the mainland Chinese professionals who are already privileged socially, economically and politically. At the same time, the forced closure of many schools in the surrounding areas. It proves that the large reserved land for future schools is unnecessary and without logical basis.
9) I DO think Hong Kong government should take the route of supporting the localized economy rather than the route of Hong Kong-Shenzhen economic integration. This is because, in order for Hong Kong to have a competitive edge over other cities in the world, we have to remain unique. The uniqueness and differences are the key to make Hong Kong stand out from other cities, in our case, other Chinese cities, and thus attract investment from China and from all over the world. The sources that supply such uniqueness and differences are the localized business and economies. If we consent to integration, we will kill our uniqueness and differences. This is already happening in Hong Kong. Please look around you when you go out with your families. All you see are the same shopping malls which do not help Hong Kong to create its own uniqueness because anyone can see those same stores anywhere in the world.
In conclusion, the proposal strives for economic development for sake of economic development without considering the bad impacts on the North District. It is bias toward the need of the mainland Chinese travelers and sacrifices the interest of Hong Kong people. For the above reasons, I urge you to give up the North East New Territory New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study immediately.
Thank you very much for your time and attention.
Sheung Shui Resident
Photos of the Northeast area on the Internet / Facebook
The upper part of the photo shows the current outlook of Ng Tong River at Tin Ping Shan Village in Sheung Shui / Fanling North, viewing from Shek Wu Market, Sheung Shui. It is a pleasant country scene with green hills and clear waters. Local people enjoy cycling and fishing there. However, it is part of the proposed North East Development Plan. Once the North East Area has been developed, like the scenario in lower part of the photo, what people see will be walled buildings, more shopping malls of similar looks, more public houses to fill more new immigrants, more shoppers and smugglers from China.
[Translation of the original description] This is an advertisement of the super luxury house Valais in Kwu Tong. The grassland on the right hand side, with a reserved spot for the MTR station, is the area proposed to be developed in the plan. The white things on the upper left are buildings in Huanggang, China. The selling point is: It only takes 3 minutes to go to Huanggang, China, and 15 minutes to Futian, China. Ok. That’s it. Then what’s up with the North East Development Project is so obvious.
The plains in Kwu Tung, Sheung Shui, and Fanling, linked by Long Valley, form an important line of defense to prevent the city from over-development. It is the only remaining green belt between Hong Kong and Shenzhen.