TPB gives thumbs down to Area 6f development

The Town Planning Board yesterday denied Hong Kong Resort Company Limited’s request to rezone Area 6f from staff housing to residential development.

In its presentation, Planning Department followed the script contained in the paper that it had prepared for the meeting. It highlighted that Discovery Bay was intended as a low-density residential development and leisure resort, and that HKR had not provided sufficient justification to proceed with the development, especially as HKR still had over 120,000 sq.m. of undeveloped gross floor area in DB North. Ad hoc approval of an individual proposal would create an undesirable precedent, the Department argued.

In response, HKR’s representatives came out swinging. At times hurt, claiming that Planning Department had moved the goalposts; at times combative, claiming that Lands Department was taking far too long to approve its requests; and at times playing fast and loose with the truth, HKR argued strongly that the government departments had all signed off on the proposal, that the development would have no impact on the existing resort atmosphere in DB, and that the two blocks would provide middle-class housing at Yuen Long prices. “Discovery Bay is not a luxury development,” they emphasised.

In the end, HKR’s last-minute appeal (the representatives circulated a private information bundle to members at the meeting, thumbing their noses at the public consultation process) came to naught. Late last night, the TPB posted “Not Agreed” on its website.

The minutes of the meeting should be available in about two weeks.

Planning Department rejects 6f development

In a paper prepared for the Town Planning Board meeting on 23 June, Planning Department advised members that it does not support Hong Kong Resort’s (HKR) application to develop Area 6f. The Department gave the following reasons:

Based on the assessment made in paragraph 11 and having taken into account the public comments mentioned in paragraph 10, the Planning Department does not support the application for the following reasons:

(a) there is scope for further residential development under the current OZP as the total maximum domestic gross floor area allowed has yet to be realised. No strong justification has been provided by the applicant for rezoning the Site for residential use; and

(b) approval of the application would set an undesirable precedent for other similar rezoning applications, the accumulative impact of which would further depart from the original development concept of Discovery Bay and overstrain the existing and planned infrastructure capacities for Discovery Bay area.

Download the full paper by clicking on this link.

The Town Planning Board will consider the submission by HKR and the advice of Planning Department at its meeting on 23 June, and make a final decision on the application.

Round 5 Part 2. A lesson in how to game the system

The missing documents have now been released. The latest documents, and the TPB’s treatment of these documents, underline how  misleading it is to quote for/against statistics.

In the “support the development” camp we have Mr. Chan, who submitted one email with three documents, all with the same comments, two in English and one in Chinese. He was counted three times, 5899 to 5901. We also have Mr. Samuel Ip (5915), Mr. Sam (5918) and Mr. Samuel (5919), all with the exact same comment. And Mr. Wong Hong Chong (6144), Mr. HC Wong (6145) and Mr. Galen Wong (6146). Again, all submissions are recorded as individual submissions.

Yet, in the “oppose the development” camp we have many instances where separate submissions with different subjects submitted by a single person are bundled together under one number. See, for example, 6129, 6130, 6131, 6132, 6133, 6134, 6155, 6158 and 6159.

5888 to 5948

6119 to 6173

6f Round 5. Many Unanswered Questions

Although the deadline for public comments for the 5th Round of public consultation on construction of two residential tower blocks at Area 6f closed two weeks ago, it appears that the record is still incomplete.

From the comments posted to date, those opposed continue to detail the unanswered questions, and raise new questions on the latest submission. Meanwhile, supporters have little to say other than “support”.

The bulk of comments opposed are here:

5949 to 5975

The submission from the Parkvale Village VOC, provided as an attachment to #5964, is particularly detailed and insightful . #5959 has an interesting angle on ownership of the site.

The bulk of comments in support are here:

5976 to 6108

Additional comments opposed, mainly repeating previous submissions, are here:

6109 to 6118

Back to the trenches on Area 6f

HKR has submitted a revised application for Area 6f, providing further information on geotechnical issues, the potable water and sewerage plans , and environmental aspects, among others.

Comments are due by 12 May, 2017, and the application is now scheduled to be heard on 23 June, 2017.

The application also reveals the reason that Area 10b has been withdrawn. In the last round of consultation on Area 10b, HKR had proposed to relocate the helipad at Area 10b to the roof of the potable water service reservoir along Discovery Valley Road. However, government departments pointed out that this site is too close to Area 6f. HKR decided to sacrifice 10b at this time in order to enable 6f to proceed.

The latest submission may be downloaded from these links:

Area 6f Round 5 Submission

Area 6f Round 5 Gist

To make new comments to the Town Planning Board on Area 6f, go to http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/plan_application/Y_I-DB_2.html. Alternatively, you may submit your comments by email to tpbpd@pland.gov.hk. If submitting by email, include the reference “Y/I-DB/2” in the subject line.

HKR throws in the towel at Area 10b

HKR has withdrawn its Town Planning Board application for Area 10b, without giving any reasons. The Area 6f application is still going forward and will be heard on April 28.

The notice can be found here.

Area 10b was always the more problematic of the two applications, as the site is presently being used as a Service Area. Despite many requests from residents, HKR has not explained how all the existing service facilities will be re-provisioned.

This is not likely to be the end of the effort to “optimize land use” at Area 10b, but we can hope for a better plan and better planning under a new proposal.

Mere “technical engineering details” outstanding

The Town Planning Board published HKR’s latest update to the application to rezone Area 10b on 24 February. The deadline for comment is 17 March. The applications for Area 6f and 10b will be heard together by the TPB on 28 April, 2017.

According to HKR’s consultant for the project, Masterplan Limited, the outstanding issues are “technical engineering details” that can be addressed during the detailed planning stage. Masterplan urge the TPB to approve the application.

However, none of the concerns raised by the small owners of Discovery Bay in respect of their rights under the Deed of Mutual Covenant have been addressed. This may be due to the fact that it is extremely rare for a developer to apply to the TPB to redevelop a lot that is subject to a DMC. It is simply not possible to change land use and development density under other DMCs in Hong Kong. Neither the government departments nor the TPB have guidelines and procedures in place to deal with the important issues involved.

Such issues include:

  • the contractual rights of all small owners to Area 10b as the Service Area for the development under the DMC;
  • the contractual rights of Parkvale Village owners in respect of the Passageways in their village (which has read-across implications for the Passageways in other villages in DB);
  • the number of undivided shares allocated to all existing developments on the lot, and the number available for allocation to Areas 6f and 10b (after factoring in the golf course and reservoir developments, as well as the coming developments in DB North that are already approved under the existing Outline Zoning Plan);
  • the under-allocation of management units and undivided shares to recent developments in DB, leading to improper charging for the common expenses of the lot and enabling HKR to retain more undivided shares than it is entitled to under the DMC. These extra undivided shares can be used to further expand the development on the lot; and
  • the cost implications of HKR’s plan to install completely new potable water and sewage systems dedicated to serving Areas 6f and 10b. The DMC does not allow costs incurred solely by new developments to be charged to existing owners, but the 6f and 10b owners will need to contribute to the cost of running the existing infrastructure in DB, including the existing water and sewage network.

None of these issues have been addressed. How can our rights as small owners be protected?

HKR’s latest submission is available for download in three parts:

Part 1, covering a summary of changes since the last submission; response to comments from government departments; and air ventilation assessment.

Part 2, covering additional detail on the air ventilation assessment and part of the revised environmental impact assessment.

Part 3, covering the remainder of the revised environmental impact assessment. At the end of this section is a comment on the sewage treatment plan.

This time, comments are open on Area 10b only. However, many issues are similar across 6f and 10b. Hence, if you wish to provide further comment with respect to Area 6f in light of the papers submitted to the TPB for the meeting on 17 February, simply rephrase them for the Area 10b application.

Submit New Comments on Area 10b Proposal

(Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on “Make New Comment”.)

You may also submit comments direct by email to tpbpd@pland.gov.hk, with Y/I-DB/3 in the subject line.

Sharpen Your Pencils! Round 5 Starts Friday

The Area 6f application was submitted to the Town Planning Board on Friday, 17 February, and was deferred yet again.

Area 10b was not on the agenda, as HKR has submitted new material that will be the subject of another round of public consultation starting Friday, 24 February. Once again, we will have three weeks to comment. Both Area 6f and 10b are scheduled to come back to the TPB for a decision on 28 April, 2017.

Area 6f was deferred at the request of Planning Department and over the strong objection of HKR, which wanted the application to be put to the TPB for approval. However, Planning Department argued that both 6f and 10b should be heard together, and the TPB agreed.

As a result, we have a very valuable set of background papers, providing an insight into the views of all government departments on the Area 6f proposal. Everyone who cares about the future development of Discovery Bay should read these documents carefully, and use the lessons learned to comment on Area 10b when the next round is announced.

The new Area 10b submission will be uploaded here next week, after the TPB launches the Round 5 public consultation on 24 February. Meanwhile, the Area 6f documents submitted to the TPB  for consideration at the 17 February meeting are available now:

Planning Dept Submission for Meeting on 17 Feb, 2017

Appendices, including HKR’s Response to Comments

Planning Dept Request for Deferral

Masterplan Objection to Deferral

Round 3 Comments: HKR get out the vote… again

The Discovery Bay developer, Hong Kong Resort Company Limited (HKR), may ignore the public comments in their own submissions to the Town Planning Board (TPB). However, they certainly do not ignore them when it comes time to drum up support for their proposals.

Yet again, HKR have organised their staff and fellow travelers to bombard the TPB with the same standard phrases they have used since Round 1.

For both Area 6f and 10b, CM Manager GH Koo takes the prize for the first to comment in Round 3. The 525 supporting comments for Area 6f #4692 to #5217, which were submitted to the TPB in one batch, are listed separately so you can save bandwidth.

See #5218 of Area 6f for a comment spoken from the heart by a Parkvale resident. These simple words underline how callous HKR really are.

The Peninsula VOC’s submission is included at #4683 of Area 10b (the last entry in the file).

Area 6f

4492 to 4691

4692 to 5217 (You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all)

5218 to 5262

5263 to 5297

5298 to 5411

Area 10b

4479 to 4683

4684 to 5200 (You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all)

5201 to 5390