File Ref : (P)50/14/10

Brief for the Legislative Council Planning, Lands and Works Panel



In discussing PWSC Paper (98-99)18 on the above project at Public Works Sub-Committee (PWSC) Meeting on 23 September 1998, Members expressed concern over the water quality and possible adverse environmental impact of the proposed open channel in the South East Kowloon Development (SEKD); the urgency of the proposed site investigation and detailed design work of the North Apron area of Kai Tak Airport (NAKTA); and whether the proposed work would pre-empt the final land use and scale of reclamation in SEKD. This paper attempts to address these three concerns.

Kai Tak Nullah Extension (KTNE)

2. Under the proposed SEKD, the existing Kai Tak Nullah would be reconstructed and extended to run through the centre of the SEKD with a total length of about 3 km and a width ranging from 40 to 110m. It will carry storm water from the vicinity and discharge from the Tolo Harbour Effluent Export Scheme.

3. In order to meet the land use requirements and to allow effective maintenance of this lengthy nullah, the Government has designed a scheme which adopts a combination of box culverts, decked and open channels for the KTNE, having due regard primarily to the maintenance requirement of this channel and the compatibility with the surrounding proposed land uses. Unlike open channels which can be maintained throughout the year, box culverts could only be effectively maintained during dry seasons. It is therefore practically not feasible to use box culverts or decked channel throughout the entire length of KTNE without increasing the risk of flooding. Partial decking of the channel is possible, but it would incur an additional cost in the order of $2 billion. Decked channels would also increase annual recurrent maintenance costs 17 times over that of open channels, from HK$ 8 million to 139 million.

4. The Government is fully aware of the need to ensure that water quality of the discharge through the open channel would meet our established standard and would not cause any environmental nuisance, including odour.

5. In the past, the poor quality of discharge of Kai Tak Nullah was caused mainly by illegal connection of sewage into the storm water channel in the upstream area. With the progressive implementation of Sewerage Master Plans (which removes illegal connections) and the SSDS Stage 1 (which collects sewage from Kowloon to Stonecutters Island for treatment), the water quality of the nullah has been slowly improving. The improvement is, however, not readily apparent due mainly to the cumulated contaminated sludge on the seabed. With the realignment of the Kai Tak Nullah under our proposed scheme, we are confident that the water quality would meet our establish Dissolved Oxygen level of 2 mg/L at all times. Moreover, as over 90% of the planned culverts and channels would be below the low tide level, the flushing effect of the tide would help cleanse the channels throughout dry seasons.

Planning for Housing Development

6. The SEKD has been identified in the Territory Development Strategy Review as one of the ten strategic growth areas in the Territory for residential developments. A total of 123 ha. of land has been zoned there for housing development with a design population of 320,000. The SEKD is scheduled to be implemented in four main development packages and the proposed programme for housing intake is summarised in Table 1 as follow:

Programme for Housing Intake
Development package Population
Flat Nos.Population
North Apron of Kai Tak Airport (NAKTA) 2003 48,200 131,000
Kai Tak Nullah/Kwun Tong Typhoon shelter(KTN/KTTS) 2007 26,600 70,000
Kowloon Bay Reclamation 1 (KBR1)200720,10059,000
Kowloon Bay Reclamation 2 (KBR2)201223,20060,000

7. NAKTA is the first of the four development packages to be implemented, scheduled to commence population intake in 2003. The NAKTA site is an existing formed area with a total of 15 housing sites, 12 of which are allocated for public sector housing.

8. Hong Kong has a large population and currently there are many families in need of decent housing. The situation will become worse as the population increases. It is estimated that the population will grow by one million in the next ten years.

9. It is the Government's objective to ensure better housing for all through an adequate supply of affordable housing for ownership or rent. The Government's targets are to reduce the number of inadequately housed people, to help all households gain access to affordable housing and to encourage home ownership in the community. This would require the Government to provide sufficient supply of land, together with supporting infrastructure, to meet housing demand.

10. As explained by the Chief Executive in his Policy Address, we have re-examined the key components of our long term housing target, namely, public rental housing; home ownership scheme (HOS); "sandwich" class housing and the private residential sector. In respect of the public sector component, we remain fully committed to provide an average of 50,000 flats annually for the five years beginning in 1997. This is necessary to achieve our pledge of reducing the average waiting time for a public rental unit to three years by 2005. Sites previously earmarked for sandwich class housing may be re-designated for other housing uses in order to make up for potential shortfalls in the second half of our current planning period. The number of private sector flats to be produced will vary according to market demand but in any case will not form a significant proportion of the flats to be produced in the NAKTA development.

11. The NAKTA is one of the few large development areas for housing in the metro area, producing a total of 48,200 flats to meet part of the housing demand in the medium term from 2003 to 2006. The site is available without the need for major site formation work and can be readily serviced to support early housing development. Other sites of such scale are not available in the urban area.

12. If the detailed design work for engineering infrastructure at NAKTA is deferred pending the completion of the Town Planning procedures for Kai Tak (north), at least one year's delay is envisaged for NAKTA development. As NAKTA is the first housing development package at South East Kowloon Development (SEKD), its delay will have serious negative impact on public housing supply in East Kowloon.

13. In the light of population growth and the community's aspiration for adequate housing, the Government is fully committed to making available sufficient land to meet housing demand. The recent slow down in development activity is likely to result in a downward revision in the projected number of flats to be completed in the years 2003-2004. This makes the development of the NAKTA site particularly critical. It is worth emphasising that there remain some 150,000 households on the Waiting List, and any delay in the schedule plan for the NAKTA development will have an impact on the waiting time faced by these families. The infrastructure to support the NAKTA development requires between four and five years to complete, and it is necessary to begin detailed design almost immediately to meet our flat production schedule.

Project Scope

14. At the panel meetings on 10 September and 17 September and again at the PWSC meeting on 23 September, the Government has reassured Members that the funding for site investigation and detailed design work for NAKTA would not pre-empt the final decision and design of the scale of reclamation in Kowloon Bay. To address Members' concerns over the risk of abortive design work, the Government has critically reviewed the proposed scope of work. Given that the proposed housing development at the KAKTA would commence at the north and proceed south, our review shows that there is scope in trimming part of the works related to the southern end of the development area. The Government is therefore prepared to propose a slightly revised scheme for consideration by the PWSC as soon as possible.

Planning, Environment and Lands Bureau
Housing Bureau
29 October 1998