Discovery Bay expansion plan angers residents who fear their peaceful lives will be ruined
Originally published at the South China Morning Post on May 13, 2016.
Discovery Bay residents are up in arms about a major development plan to expand the neighbourhood’s landmark plaza and create new housing in two areas – a plan they say is not in the community’s best interest and will lead to overcrowding.
Developer Hong Kong Resort Co is set to begin implementing a large-scale plan that will increase the number of retail shops in Discovery Bay Plaza from 100 to 130, as well as relocating and renovating the bus terminus to include 10 per cent more parking spaces for golf carts and 30 per cent more bus bays. Construction will begin later this year and is scheduled to finish in 2021.
The plan also includes building residential developments around Parkvale Village and Nim Shue Wan, which will change the land usage and requires governmental approval.
The proposed developments are slated to create about 1,600 units for roughly 4,000 people, according to applications submitted by Hong Kong Resort Co. The developer submitted two proposals in February to the Town Planning Board.
“What upsets me is that we have something really very good, and what they’re going to do will actually spoil it,” said Edwin Rainbow, a 71-year-old Discovery Bay resident who has lived in Nim Shue Wan for 17 years. “The proposed development would completely change the environment. The population in the area they are going to build is much more intense than the existing part of Discovery Bay.”
During the public consultation period that ended on April 8, the two proposals received a total of 4,404 comments. Hong Kong Resort Co told the Post that about 70 per cent of comments were in support of the developments. The projects were currently at a “preliminary stage” and the approval process would determine when the development started, the company said.
On plaza renovations, the developer said that it hoped to “continuously improve the facilities in Discovery Bay and make it a better place to live in”, as well as “bring in more retail choices for DB residents”.
Island District Councillor Amy Yung Wing-sheung said that the majority of residents she had spoken to at various community meetings were against the proposed developments and many of the public submissions in favour of the proposals contained the same comment.
“The developer wants to develop this into a tourist hub ... but Discovery Bay is a low-density residential area. We value our peaceful life here,” Yung said.
As for the proposed housing, residents were mainly concerned that it would bring increased traffic into the neighbourhood and stretch the area’s finite resources. The infrastructure in Discovery Bay – including roads, water and sewage systems – was designed to serve a maximum of 25,000 people, Yung said.
“Now we have 17 to 18,000 people. If we include the people who live on the boats in the marina, and also the hotel, the visitors and the people coming to DB for schooling ... we have quite a large number. We really don’t have the facilities.”
Rainbow said that the issue of gentrification was a growing problem in the area. The plaza area had become increasingly commercial and smaller shops that served the community had been pushed out, he said.
“The development of the plaza is more than we need. We didn’t ask for it,” Rainbow said.
Ken Bradley, who lives in Parkvale Village and has been a Discovery Bay resident for eight years, criticised Hong Kong Resort Co for not consulting residents about its development plans before submitting the proposals.
“Proper consultation is being proactive in the period before submitting,” Bradley said. “There’s been absolutely no consultation whatsoever in the run up to this. To talk about public consultation is nonsense.”