'Homely' appeal of moving prisons to free up land

Top News | Phoenix Un 13 Sep 2018

In land-hungry Hong Kong even prisons are beginning to look "homely." The Public Governance Association is calling on the government to move prisons out of the way - to less appealing places such as Po Toi Island and the uninhabited Lo Chau Island.

Chairman Chan Choi-hi said in his recommendation to the Task Force for Land Supply consultation and this year's policy address that moving some urban area prisons may provide 50 to 100 hectares of land for housing and infrastructure.

That would allow 50,000 to 100,000 residents to move in.

"The [Stanley Prison] plot should be very expensive if sold in a land sale," Chan said.

"And the Siu Lam [Psychiatric Centre] is close to Gold Coast and the transport facilities are sufficiently convenient."

In order to move the prisons to Po Toi and Lo Chau, Chan said there would be a need for land reclamation of about five hectares to connect the two islands.

There are a total of 23 prisons, correctional institutions and rehabilitation centers in Hong Kong, some of which have become targets for development in the ongoing public consultation by the task force.

Apart from Stanley Prison and the Siu Lam Psychiatric Centre, the association called for Pik Uk Prison and other large prisons to be moved to outlying islands south of Hong Kong Island. Po Toi currently has only 10 residents.

The association - a political think tank --also supports land reclamation in North Lantau and Tuen Mun west, as well as the planned East Lantau Metropolis that would allow at least 300,000 residents to move in.

However Chan, also a Central and Western district councillor, is concerned that, since the artificial island would have tunnels or bridges leading to west Hong Kong Island, this could cause severe traffic congestion in Western district.

So he is also suggesting reclamation on the coast of that district to provide a buffer zone.

Other land supply measures he supports include brownfield development and taking back about a fourth of the Fanling Golf Course.

Meanwhile, 14 environmental protection groups - including the World Wide Fund for Nature, Greenpeace and Green Sense - met with the task force.

They opposed any development of the fringe areas of country parks - one of the favored options of Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor.

They are also against reclamation, especially for the East Lantau Metropolis.

They said it would be too expensive and would cause severe destruction to the environment in both reclaiming land and obtaining materials for reclamation.

phoenix.un@singtaonewscorp.com

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