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The Government has put forward the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy in the 2021 Policy Address with a view to driving Hong Kong's economic as well as innovation and technology development, increasing housing supply, and at the same time formulating and implementing a conservation policy. The Northern Metropolis encompasses maturely developed new towns including Tin Shui Wai, Yuen Long, Fanling/Sheung Shui and their neighbouring rural areas, as well as six NDAs and Development Nodes in different planning and development stages, namely Kwu Tung North/Fanling North (KTN/FLN), Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen, Yuen Long South, San Tin/Lok Ma Chau, Man Kam To and the New Territories North New Town.

Among the NDA projects, the KTN/FLN NDA is the first one entering the implementation stage. The entire project of KTN/FLN NDA is being implemented in two phases, i.e. phase one and the remaining phase. Upon full development, it will provide a total of about 71,800 housing units, of which nearly 70 percent will be public housing. Apart from its capacity to accommodate an additional population of about 188,100, the NDA will also provide a floor area of about 868,000 square metres for economic activities as well as proposed community purposes, and create about 40,100 job opportunities.

First Phase of Development

At present, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is conducting the site formation and infrastructure works for the first phase of the development, which include mainly the site formation of about 70 hectares of land, construction of the some 4-kilometre long Fanling Bypass (Eastern Section) and about 10 kilometres of local roads, footpaths and cycle tracks, as well as other infrastructure works such as drainage, sewerage, waterworks, slope works and landscaping works. With the funding approval given in mid-2019, the related works commenced in September of the same year. It is expected that the sites will be ready for handover to the Housing Department or the Hong Kong Housing Society for public housing development from 2022 onwards. The expected completion date of the entire project is 2026.

The land for housing in the first phase of the development can provide a total of about 21,000 housing units, of which about 18,000 are public housing units, accommodating an additional population of about 53,000. Population intake for the first batches of private and public housing units is expected to start in 2023 and 2026 respectively.

Public Housing Development at Kwu Tung North Area 19

Works for the public housing development site at Kwu Tung North Area 19 were at full steam. The site will provide about 9,000 public housing units, which can accommodate about 23,000 people.

The site formation at the area involves demolition of structures, yard waste removal, land-filling, etc. The department will also carry out infrastructure works there to meet the needs in the NDA. For example, contractors are building a trunk road called Road P1, which is a dual two-lane carriageway, and installing underground fresh water mains and building a stormwater drainage system in the area. Currently, the site formation works are making good progress and are expected to be completed on schedule in mid-2022. Upon completion of works, the site will be immediately handed over to the HD for housing development. The first population intake is scheduled for 2026.

Apart from residential development, the formed land will also be allocated for community and other development uses. For example, next to the public housing site in Area 19 will be a public market, a Multi-welfare Services Complex of the Social Welfare Department, schools, a sports centre, a library, a community centre, public transport interchanges and the future Kwu Tung Station on the Northern Link.

The Hong Kong Housing Authority submitted planning application to seek approval from the Town Planning Board in May 2022 for minor relaxation of maximum total plot ratio and building height restrictions for the public housing development at the area.

Public Housing Site in Fanling North Area 15 East

The first public housing site in the FLN NDA, which is situated in the east of Area 15, will provide 6,100 public housing units, accommodating a population of about 15,000.

From the third quarter of 2020 to the first quarter of 2021, the Lands Department gradually handed over resumed land to the CEDD for site formation and infrastructure works. The works are making satisfactory progress, with the first phase of site formation expected to complete in the second quarter of 2022, a quarter ahead of schedule, for the Housing Department’s construction of public housing units. The first population intake is scheduled for 2026. To meet the traffic needs of the NDA, the CEDD is constructing the Fanling Bypass (Eastern Section), a dual two-lane carriageway of about 4 kilometres long, connecting the FLN NDA to Fanling Highway. The project team is now carrying out foundation works for the bridge. The bypass is expected to complete by 2026.

The Hong Kong Housing Authority submitted planning application to seek approval from the Town Planning Board in December 2021 for minor relaxation of maximum total plot ratio and building height restrictions for the public housing development at the area.

Developing Ma Tso Lung

According to the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, the agricultural land and slope areas in Ma Tso Lung to the north of the KTN NDA can be included within the NDA to provide, in estimate, an additional 12,000 to 13,500 residential units. With the construction of the link road connecting the eastern part of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park (HSITP) and the KTN NDA, Ma Tso Lung and its surrounding areas can serve as an intersection linking the HSITP and the KTN NDA, providing I&T enterprises with convenient community services and daily life support. The relevant study will commence within this year and is expected to complete in about 24 months.

Exploring Northern Link Eastward Extension to Promote Development

The proposed Northern Link (NOL) will be implemented in two phases. The Kwu Tung (KTU) Station on the Lok Ma Chau Spur Line will be constructed in NOL Phase 1, while NOL Phase 2 includes a railway of about 10.7 kilometres between the Kam Sheung Road Station and KTU Station, with three intermediate stations at San Tin, Ngau Tam Mei and Au Tau. Construction of the NOL Phase 1 is expected to commence in 2023 for completion in 2027. Construction of the NOL Phase 2 is expected to commence in 2025 for completion in 2034.

According to the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy, the Kwu Tung North New Development Area under construction will include the Kwu Tung Station and alignment space has been reserved for the eastward extension of the NOL. Consideration should thus be given to constructing a railway extending to the northeast from the Kwu Tung Station to connect with areas in Lo Wu and Man Kam To on the Hong Kong side and various development nodes in the New Territories North (NTN) New Town. A station can also be provided at the On Lok Tsuen Industrial Area in Fanling connected to the Fanling Station by seamless pedestrian system. A railway network connecting different strategic development projects and existing communities can then be formed, which can drive land development and unleash the development potential.

The above railway network can strategically strengthen the locational advantages of the KTN NDA, facilitating speedier connection between the San Tin Technopole and various development areas on the Hong Kong side in the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Close Interaction Circle and the San Tin Technopole. This can create synergy and enhance the development potential of the areas along the NOL (including the KTN NDA) and accelerate the development of the NTN New Town.

Adjusting Land Use Planning to Expedite Housing Land Supply

To increase the supply of residential land in the KTN NDA, the Northern Metropolis Development Strategy mentioned that the original planning scheme of the NDA should be reviewed by shifting the land use function of some land parcels located in the east and zoned“Other Specified Uses” annotated “Business and Technology Park” to the San Tin Technopole, thus creating greater clustering effect for the I&T industry. As such, rezoning the land parcels for housing development can release about three hectares of land for the construction of over 1,000 residential units.

Website of Development Bureau
Northern Metropolis Development Strategy Report by Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government

Complimentary copies available to members of the following associations:

The Hong Kong Construction Association
Macau Coustruction Association
Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association
Hong Kong Institute of Utility Specialists
China Hongkong Society for Trenchless Technology Association
Hong Kong Construction Materials Association Limited
Contractor's Authorised Signatory Association
Hong Kong Construction Machinery Association