The Town Planning Board’s decision on HKR’s right to develop Area 6f at Discovery Bay was overturned by the Court of First Instance at the High Court in a decision announced on Friday, 7 August. The full judgement can be read here.
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.
Note: The minutes are available here.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
Additional comments opposed, mainly repeating previous submissions, are here:
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:
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 email@example.com. If submitting by email, include the reference “Y/I-DB/2” in the subject line.
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.
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:
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.
(Scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click on “Make New Comment”.)
You may also submit comments direct by email to firstname.lastname@example.org, with Y/I-DB/3 in the subject line.
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: