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.
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.”
Subscribe to Lantau News Updates. Send a Whatsapp to +852 98172089 with the message ‘subscribe’. Make sure to add the number to your contacts.
As if Hong Kong politics were not combustible enough: the contentious Lantau reclamation project is back.
The HK$624 billion scheme to build a new CBD on reclaimed land near Lantau is the biggest and costliest in Hong Kong’s history.
The government will go to the Legco Finance Committee this Friday to seek final approval for HK$550 million for the first stage of the project – planning and engineering studies.
Under the scheme the government plans to create 1200ha of land for premium office space and housing for up to 1 million people around Kau Yi Chau, an island halfway between Lantau and Hong Kong.
A second stage, yet to be studied, involves building a further 500ha near Hei Ling Chau, just off Mui Wo.
In a briefing paper, the CEDD said it required the funds to proceed
with the planning of the KYC [Kau Yi Chau] Artificial Islands, including the formulation of detailed land use proposals, as well as the road and rail connections linking the KYC Artificial Islands with Hong Kong Island, Northeast Lantau and coastal area of Tuen Mun.
If it begins on schedule the study would complete in mid-2023, the paper said.
The biggest costs in the study are the consultants’ fees for the artificial islands (HK$190 million) and for transport infrastructure (HK$160 million).