Second government department confirms Mui Wo housing plan

A second government department has confirmed that the vacant Mui Wo school site is being considered for housing development.

Planning Department director Raymond Lee says the site has been recommended as “suitable for long-term residential use.”

In a letter to Tom Yam of the Citizens Task Force on Land Resources, Lee said that the site, which has been out of use since 2007, is one of a number of former schools being reviewed.

He said the decision to designate it for potential housing development had been announced in early 2020.

But it would be “premature” to conduct any public consultation as the feasibility study is still underway, he added.

He said the proposed housing scheme, if approved, would not conflict with the Mui Wo Facelift programme, now in its final stage.

The scheme to build public housing on the old school, formally known as the New Territories Heung Yee Kuk (NYTHYK) Southern District Secondary School, was revealed in August by KH Tau, assistant director of the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD).

Tau disclosed that the department had issued an HK$11 million contract to engineering firm Aecom for a feasibility study in April 2019. It is due to report in early 2021.

Tau said that both the NYTHYK site and the adjacent public car park were being evaluated for public housing.

Map: CEDD feasibility study covering school and car park

Yam estimates that the site would sustain a plot size of 7,000 to 8,000 sq m which would support between 700 to 1,500 apartments and a potential population increase of 2,000 to 4,000.

He believes the proposal for high-density housing breaches planning guidelines that stipulate taking into consideration the surrounding land use and planning intentions.

A Planning Department list of school sites under evaluation shows that the city has 234 abandoned schools, of which 181 are recommended to remain as a “government/institution/community (GIC) facility” and 26 are proposed for residential use.

The remaining 27 are former village schools in the New Territories that are “recommended for retaining their uses as village type development, rural use, open space, etc.”

Lee did not explain why the Mui Wo school site has been “earmarked for residential use,” rather than retained as public space like the New Territories village schools.

It is worth noting that the Planning Department is only concerned with the school site itself and not the car park.

The inclusion of Mui Wo’s biggest car park as a potential development site was a decision taken by the CEDD when setting up the feasibility study.

Randy Yu , Islands District Council chairman and south Lantau representative on the council, says he is uncertain of the status of the project.

“The answers I get from different departments are still sketchy. In any case, I was given to understand that the plan is not definite.”

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