The “Last Train” For Developers to Apply for Concessions

Recently, there is skepticism aroused towards the long waited regulations of inflated buildings. The proposed regulation announced by Mrs. Carrie Lam, Secretary for Development will take effect on 1st April, 2011, which still allows half year for developers to apply for concessions. MTR, the Government being the major shareholder, has 6 approved, but not tendered plans for construction of inflated buildings. These 6 plans include Long Ping(North), Tin Shui Wai, Tin Shui Wai (LRT Tin Wing Station)、Tsuen Wan West (TW5 Bay side)、Tsuen Wan West (TW5 City side)及Tsuen Wan West (TW6).

These 6 projects have large podium ranging from 3 storeys to 7 storeys, which consist of multi-storey car parks, clubhouses and shopping malls. This style of development is now known as ‘birthday cake’ (large podium being the cake and residential buildings on top as candles), definitely detrimental to the ventilation of the neighborhood. The construction of large podium is also apparently contradicts the new regulations- to construct car park underground and to reduce the size of clubhouse. The original average size of the flats is around 600 sq.ft. to 700 sq.ft. whereas the estimated final flat size of the “inflated” flats is round 800 sq.ft. to 1000sq.ft.. There will be large flats of three rooms but not medium or relatively smaller flats which most of the potential owners would like to purchase.

Among the 6 projects, five of them are former projects of KCR West Rail. KCR and MTR are the former and the current agent or trustee of the project respectively, the Government in fact being the true owner of the projects. The Government can still change the five projects and instruct MTR to summit the newly drafted plans after 1st April next year.

We, Green Sense, recommend the Government and MTR to amend the above mentioned projects:

1)      GFA concessions should be less than 10%;

2)      Construct only underground car parks and significantly reduce the number of parking spaces.

3)      Some projects are walled buildings and therefore the gross floor area should be reduced. Also, the distance between buildings should be sufficiently widened.

4)      Replace large flats by medium or small flats.

Mr. Roy Tam, President of Green Sense, pointed out, “There are walled buildings all along the coast ofTsuen Wan. If the current plan of Tsuen Wan west which allows the construction of inflated buildings is not changed, the ventilation of Tsuen Wan district will be even worse.” We, Green Sense, recommend the scale of Tsuen Wan West (TW5) project reduce 30%, the average size of flats reduce from 700 sq.ft. to 500 sq.ft., with the number of flats unchanged.

Urban Renewal Authority (URA) has issued an invitation for Expressions of Interest (EOI) for theFuk Tsun Street/Pine Street Project. Around a dozen developers have make EOI submission. It is anticipated there will be a tender soon. We urge URA to require the successful bidder to submit the plan after 1st April next year as to follow the new regulation on GF concessions. And the requirement should be made as a term in the tender contract. This project is a single-block development, providing 72 residential flats.

We again, urge developers to act upon conscience while making money, but not as an old Chinese saying suggests, “to consider morality after huge profit is made”. It is meaningless for the developers to donate the money to the Community Care Fund after greed exploitation of the community. We hope that, even developers are to ride on the “last train” for construction of inflated buildings, no more irritating design be included in the flats, such as 80cm bay window.

We will issue letters to all major developers, especially those who donated money to Community Care Fund, expressing our above request, with the hope that they should not squeeze every dollar or even cent out of the concession of gross floor area granted by the government.