Home > HK
Monday, January 11, 2016, 08:18

Lantau blueprint promises retreats and ‘space for all’

By Kahon Chan in Hong Kong

Yacht clubs, spa retreats and a “landmark” botanical garden are among a string of leisure and recreational facilities proposed in an ambitious transformation plan for Lantau, aimed at speeding up the future economic, commercial and infrastructure development of the island.

But, a community group has voiced social and environmental concerns, saying all the associated problems have yet to be fully addressed, particularly the capacity to deal with anticipated heavy traffic on the island.

The report, entitled “A Space for All”, was drawn up by the Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LDAC) headed by Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po, and submitted to Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying on Sunday, as the committee nears the end of its two-year term. Public consultations will follow in the coming months.

In a statement, Leung urged the public to come up with more ideas to tap the opportunities opened up by new infrastructure linking Lantau with the rest of Hong Kong. He also credited the report for taking conservation needs into full account.

Lantau — Hong Kong’s biggest island with an area of 147 square kilometers — is already home to Hong Kong International Airport, Tung Chung New Town and two major entertainment resorts — Hong Kong Disneyland and Ngong Ping 360. More than 70 percent of the island is covered by protected country parks.

The LDAC agreed to continue with existing conservation measures, while recognizing the importance of allowing the public to better appreciate the nature, Chan said in his Sunday blog.

Paragliding launch sites, mountain biking and paved hiking trails, for instance, were outlined in the report to facilitate public access to the vast country parks.

Sunny Bay, which is well connected to road and rail networks on the island, has been eyed for larger scale projects, such as performance arenas and a yacht club. A botanical garden at Siu Ho Wan would help showcase the area’s wetland habitat, while Lantau’s southern coast could play host to water sports facilities and a buffalo conservation center.

Save Lantau Alliance — a community group — has reservations, pointing out that most the proposals have not been proven practicable. It notes that a preliminary feasibility study to extend the Ngong Ping 360 cable car to the fishing village of Tai O, as well as the addition of spa retreats at Cheung Sha and on Soko Islands, will not be completed until the third quarter of this year.

The alliance is worried that Lantau’s narrow roads and its sensitive environment will be invaded by the swarms of visitors drawn by the new attractions.

Francis So, who’s known for his time-lapse photography of the city’s landscape, expressed doubts over the need to build stargazing facilities and paved trails in places which are popular for their wilderness.

LDAC member Yiu Si-wing, a lawmaker representing the tourist industry, noted there’s already stiff resistance from Lantau residents who fear that the rural neighborhoods will be swarmed by holidaymakers if the development plans go ahead.

He suggested that improving road access to the island could persuade some residents to back the transformation, and assured that the attractions were conceived to serve both local residents and tourists.

Latest News