Driving the development of New Territories North with port economy
MR CHAN CHUN-YING(in Cantonese):
President, the Government has identified the region of New Territories North and North East New Territories, i.e. San Tin/Lok Ma Chau, Kwu Tung and Fanling North, for the development of the next large-scale new development area, which will become a key land planning project for Hong Kong. I am grateful to Mr LAU Kwok-fan and Mr YIU Si-wing for proposing the motion and the amendment respectively, thus giving us a chance to present to the Government our views on the development of the region. I support the original motion and the amendment.
While New Territories North is located on the periphery of Hong Kong’s territory, it is also situated adjacent to the bustling Luohu District and Futian District of Shenzhen. I expect the Government to broaden its perspective during the planning process and take a comprehensive account of all factors including the core business districts of Shenzhen, such as Luohu and Futian, so that New Territories North will be sufficiently attractive to draw talents, technologies and resources from Shenzhen and the Mainland cities of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area (“GBA”).
Let us take the example of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop (“the Loop“). The Park will become the largest innovation and technology (“I&T“) platform in Hong Kong. It covers a total gross floor area of 1.2 million sq m, with 67 buildings to be developed in two phases. Upon the completion of the whole project, 50 000 jobs will be created and its economic contribution can reach $50 billion per annum. Under the current plan, the first phase involves the development of the western part. The InnoCell in that part is expected to provide only about 100 residential units, which I believe fall far short of the accommodation demand of research and development (“R&D“) personnel and their families.
In order to develop New Territories North into an R&D ecosystem for attracting R&D talent, the Government’s plan must incorporate features to facilitate movement of people and accommodation, including relaxing the clearance restrictions within the region to accommodate the work pattern of the personnel from the two places, especially the living needs of R&D personnel.This will enable them to engage in R&D with peace of mind and gladly develop their careers in Hong Kong, thereby achieving the objective of developing an I&T corridor.
Earlier on, the Research Director of the One Country Two Systems Research Institute expressed his views on the development of the New Territories during a media interview. He stressed that Hong Kong should capitalize on the opportunities brought by the 14th Five-Year Plan to establish its position as an international I&T hub. Upon the implementation of the co-location arrangement at the Huanggang Port in Shenzhen, the land released from the Lok Ma Chau border area should be incorporated into the existing Loop. Moreover, the Loop, the land to the south of Man Kam To Boundary Control Point and the land to the south of Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point should be linked up to form a “little Silicon Valley” in order to attract I&T giants such as Huawei and Tencent to relocate their R&D centres there, which will gradually become the heart of the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao I&T hub. I consider these suggestions worthy of further study by the Government.
Besides, the Government should develop transport infrastructure in the region in parallel. In particular, a mass transit railway system is indispensable. The first resident intake of the San Tin/Lok Ma Chau project is expected to take place in 2032. Unfortunately, the proposed Northern Link and San Tin station will only be completed in 2034. Since two years is not a short time, I hope that the Government can expedite the construction of the Northern Link, and further extend the network eastwards and westwards to cover the whole New Territories North and North East New Territories.
At the same time, a north-south express railway should be developed for connecting the New Territories and the urban areas. New Territories North will have a substantial population increase upon the development. Moreover, the capacity of the existing East Rail Line is near saturation. The Government has to conduct studies on constructing a north-south express railway for establishing an express, direct connection between New Territories North and Hong Kong Island as well as the existing core business districts in the urban areas.
As I have just said, the planning for New Territories North should also take into account the major cities of GBA. Apart from linking the railway system with the various boundary control points, the SAR Government and the Shenzhen authorities should actively promote the connection of the railways of the two places with a view to achieving seamless connection and facilitating cross-boundary clearance.
For example, there are currently two connecting points between Hong Kong and Shenzhen railway systems, which are Lok Ma Chau MTR station/Futian Checkpoint station in Shenzhen and Lo Wu station/Luohu station. After the Northern Link is extended eastwards and westwards in the future, the authorities of the two places should explore how the Shenzhen metro system can be linked with Hung Shui Kiu, Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, Liantang, etc. In his motion, Mr LAU Kwok-fan urges the Government to conduct studies on the setting up of government departments in NTN or their relocation to NTN. Is this development mode applicable to Hong Kong though it has been widely adopted in many regions? We, G6 Members, think this question is open to discussion.
Mr YIU Si-wing suggests making use of the Sha Tau Kok Public Pier to develop marine tourism and Chung Ying Street to develop boundary tourism. This will give Hong Kong’s tourism industry another development direction, and I express support for this suggestion.
I so submit. Thank you, President.