Smaller Vision sees big cut in cost ideas

Local | Cindy Wan 30 Oct 2018

Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun yesterday offered an estimate for creating one substantially sized island near Lantau.

The high cost of expanding two islands for a total of 1,700 hectares has been at the center of controversy since Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor rolled out the Lantau Tomorrow Vision reclamation plan in her policy address. A government source revealed then that the cost of expanding two islands would be HK$400 billion to HK$500 billion at least.

Wong now says the cost of reclaiming 1,000 hectares at Kau Yi Chau alone would be from HK$130 billion to HK$150 billion.

That is based on each reclaimed square foot of land costing from HK$1,300 to HK$1,500, Wong said.

But Wong did not offer a cost estimate for the second phase of the Lantau Tomorrow Vision, which would involve 700 hectares around Hei Ling Chau. He said that idea is "relatively vague" and is in reserve.

Wong said a plan he rated as "certain" and "the best location for reclamation" is at Kau Yi Chau, which would provide over 100 hectares for commercial development with 40 million square feet of gross floor area for grade A offices.

The Kau Yi Chau development is seen as a new central business district just 10 minutes from Central.

Asked if construction costs would be covered by revenue from land sales, Wong said planners never estimate revenue from land. But he insisted the island plan was not "a white elephant project."

And Legislative Council Finance Committee chairman Chan Kin-por yesterday stood by his claim it would take 10 hours at most to approve funding for an island feasibility study.

A limited land supply and high property prices are together the "No 1 enemy" of the people, he also said on a radio program.

A supporter of Lantau Tomorrow, Chan has been criticized for appearing too ready to allow officials to obtain funds quickly.

But he said people would appreciate his efforts 10 years from now.

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