The government has rebuffed requests from district councillors to build a public market in central Tung Chung.
Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) official have also declined to build a temporary market to serve residents before the new market is ready in five years.
Responding to Islands District Councillor members Eric Kwok and Holden Chow, the department says there is no room in the town centre for a market and it will go ahead with a site it has identified in Tung Chung east.
But that won’t be ready until residents move into Tung Chung east, one of the city’s major housing expansion projects, which won’t be finished until at least 2023.
Kwok says residents’ groups have been pressing the FEHD for three years on three possible sites: the temporary bus terminus on Tat Tung Rd, the vacant lot space behind the North Lantau and next to the bus depot at Chung Wai Street.
Until now, the department has not given a formal response.
In a written reply to Kwok, it said it had no plans to set up a temporary market, citing hygiene, safety, water supply and other issues.
“At this stage we are focusing our efforts on the construction of new public markets,” it said.
It said the new market was “conveniently” located next to the planned Tung Chung East MTR station, currently scheduled to open in 2026.
Kwok said new markets are also planned for the Ying Tung estate in Tung Chung east and Mun Tung, now nearing completion in Tung Chung west.
But both will be put to commercial tender, raising fears of a repeat of the Link REIT experience, he says.
Link REIT, a real estate trust which owns markets across Hong Kong, including Tung Chung’s Fu Tung, has been accused of pricing rents too high for small businesses and consumers.
Many Yat Tung residents travel out of Tung Chung to do their shopping because of the high local prices.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam committed to building a new public market in Tung Chung in her September policy address.
Government planners say Tung Chung’s population, currently below 90,00, will increase to nearly 250,000 over the next eight years as a result of new projects in Man Tung, Tung Chung west and Tung Chung east.