Tai Tan: Enclave under fire

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Last holiday Monday, the campaigners to preserve Hoi Ha, Friends of Hoi Ha, were joined by District Councilor Paul Zimmerman on a protest march from Tai Tan to Hoi Ha. Their starting point was chosen to show what would happen to Hoi Ha if their OZP (see accompanying story) could not be amended.

Tai Tan is said to have been a quiet and pleasant little village. It sports a bubbling stream running down to a mangrove swamp by the sea. It is still quiet, but is now a bit of a mess of construction. There was never an organised political movement to effectively oppose zoning for development.

The question is about what the area will look like when the construction is finished. Will the sewage be adequately treated? There seems to be an inordinate amount of unregulated roadbuilding for the housing going in. The road seems to go to nowhere…unless one assumes there will be more development requiring heavy machinery access. Rumour is that there will be a road all the way through to a waterfront development, still within the enclave  environs.

Hoi Ha - 10Unregulated roadbuilding

About 60 people arrived at Tai Tan and hiked to Hoi Ha where their numbers swelled to a bit more than twice that. The concerned citizens were about 90% local, even if some of the ringleaders were localised Hong Kongers. The intention of presenting Tai Tan (and next issue Pak Sha O) is to remind the reader that while Hoi Ha is our test cast, similar battles are being waged across the NT in many of the 77 enclaves. In response to Kenneth Chan’s questioning in LegCo this past Wednesday (Oct. 16), Paul Chan noted that OZP’s were in place for 23 of the 77 enclaves. That would include Tai Tan. The government plans for another 27 to introduce plans – to develop or protect, or a bit of both.

While adding 30 or 40 houses to a 20 house village, once, might not seem like such a big deal, the numbers add up. Tim Collard, a born and bred Hong Kong native and now villager, told HT he estimates over ~100ha of land are are threat of housing development, putting over 100,000 people in the Sai Kung Country Parks, if population density equals that of other ‘Small House’ developments. This would transform our country parks.

Hoi Ha - 11
Houses in construction.

People who live in the parks have cars. 100,000 people could mean 20,000 automobiles. Development in Tai Tan wasn’t stopped. Could it be elsewhere? Tim Collard admitted that the New Territories were “not easy to govern.” Not everyone is keen to preserve the parks. Paul Chan’s announcement on Wednesday that three sites (Sai Wan, Kam Shan and Yuen Tun) would be incorporated into country parks – and thereby protected – launched at least one lawsuit from an indigenous villager.

Thomas Lai believes this will make it impossible for him to build his house, strangle off his village and only benefit ‘hikers’. One wonders what took him so long to get in his application, but perhaps we was counting on this as his  retirement package. The war is on in Sai Wan for Mr. Lai. Hoi Ha is one battleground. There are scores more across our county parks, each unique and intensely personal for the people on the ground.