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Stop the rot of small houses in country parks


In an article published in the South China Morning Post today as “Stop the rot” we call on the Country Parks authority – the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation – to live up to its statutory duty and protect Hong Kong's green treasure from chaotic village house development.

在南華早報刊登的 “Stop the rot” 一文(中文譯本)之中我們要求郊野公園管理局, 包括漁農自然護理署署長,履行他們的法定職責,保護香港的綠色寶藏不受具破壞性的村屋發展掠奪。

In the meantime, Designing Hong Kong has commenced a campaign to call for abolishing the Small House Policy. Complete the form using the link above.



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Abolish the Small House Policy

Mr. Leung Chun Ying
Office of the Chief Executive
Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
People's Republic of China
Tamar, Hong Kong

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Dear Mr. Leung, 

The Small House Policy (SHP) was introduced by the former Hong Kong Government in 1972 and has NO EXPIRY DATE. Its original objective was to improve the prevailing low standard of living in the rural areas of the New Territories (NT). It is an ADMINISTRATIVE POLICY designed to simplify the basic right of any indigenous MALE NT villager (wherever born) reaching the age of 18 to build a house FOR HIMSELF TO OCCUPY in his ancestral village. The policy is out of control and is now the cause of widespread abuse and illegality.

The Government has stated that no more government land will be provided for NT small houses and when the unused village land runs out, that will be that. However, there is now such unprecedented pressure by villagers and developers (to whom many of the former have already surreptitiously sold their land) that the villages are crammed with wall to wall housing without planned access roads, sewage, drainage or public amenities.

More importantly, there are schemes afoot to fill the village enclaves inside HK's Country Parks with large, incompatible developments with no regard for the environment or the interests of the general public for whom the parks are an extremely popular amenity. Moreover the construction of these houses (hardly any of which will be occupied by the so called village applicants, as many are born and resident overseas) will cause massive environmental damage and ruin the enjoyment of Country Parks by genuine residents and visitors alike.

It is estimated that the Government’s failure to reform the policy could lead over time to more than 10,000 additional small houses being built in Country Park enclaves over the next 10 or so years. Small houses are the most environmentally damaging form of development in Hong Kong because the reality is that they are virtually unregulated. Construction (including the building of illegal or "temporary" roads) causes both habitat loss for wildlife and excessive runoff into streams and the sea which is very damaging. 

The same is true of the permanent infrastructure (e.g. road access and parking) required to service new houses, again virtually unregulated and haphazard. Sewage disposal (normally involving septic tanks) is virtually unregulated; grey water drainage generally goes into the nearest watercourse or the sea and worse (in the case of Hoi Ha) into the waters of a Marine Park.

During his election campaign at a Hong Kong University forum on 9 December 2012, the current Chief Executive of the HK SAR, C.Y. Leung, said "something will have to be done about the Small House Policy". Unfortunately, nothing has been done.

We, the undersigned, hereby petition the HKSAR Chief Executive, C.Y Leung to:

1) Abolish the divisive, discriminatory, outdated and unsustainable Small House Policy without any further delay
or, at the very least: 

2) Amend the SHP without undue delay so that the SHP no longer applies within Country Park boundaries

Don't forget to include your name, the date, and any other comments you may have.