When will private cars be allowed on Park Island?

As promised, here is an update on the discussions I have had with the Hong Kong Planning Department and the Hong Kong Transport Department.

First, below is the actual response I received in relation to submissions and inquiries related to allowing access and car parking for private cars for Park Island residents. 

This office has consulted Transport Department on your proposal. This email serves as a coordinated reply by Planning Department and Transport Department.

The construction of the Airport Core Projects had impacts on the planning for Ma Wan. The Hong Kong International Airport at Chek Lap Kok is about 12km to the west. The Lantau Link, which is the major transport link between Lantau and the urban area, passes over Ma Wan.


Ma Wan is located at a prominent location along the Tsing Ma and Lantau transport corridor and subject to traffic capacity and infrastructure constraints. Comprehensive planning and control on development on the island with due regard to all the limitations is necessary.


We would like to reiterate that the original Ma Wan planning concept was that the land transport had to be controlled to avoid unacceptable traffic impact upon Lantau Link. As traffic along the Lantau Link will become heavier with the growth in general traffic and the additional traffic generated by the planned major developments, such as the Hong Kong – Zhuhai – Macao Bridge, any proposal which would increase the traffic to and from Ma Wan beyond the planned level cannot be allowed at this stage.


The general planning intention of Ma Wan is to provide a well-connected but pollution free internal circulation network. Therefore, the transport infrastructure on Ma Wan, including the road network, parking spaces, loading and unloading bays, had not been designed to accommodate general traffic.


Since opening in 2002, the roads on Ma Wan were designated as a vehicle prohibition zone and only permitted vehicles, vehicles with permits and emergency vehicles are allowed. Therefore, there is no immediate plan to lift the restriction on private cars.


Having said that, the Transport Department will keep monitoring the traffic condition on the Lantau Link upon opening of the Tuen Mun to Chek Lap Kok Link. This is currently planned for 2018, and thereafter we will consider reviewing and modifying the traffic management measures as when appropriate and necessary.

My comments on this response below:

First of all, its a typical Government and bureaucratic reply, in that it is guarded, vague and non-committal. And what perhaps annoys me most is the typical Hong Kong attitude that because something was originally planned, it should not be changed. My view on city planning is similar to that of Paul Zimmerman, which is that we should consider what is best given current circumstances, and that if we in hindsight conclude that a historical planning decision no longer makes sense, we should change it.

And whilst I respect the "pollution free concept" I doubt allowing cars for residents would make any difference to the air quality on Ma Wan island,

I also think its ridiculous to suggest that adding, say 500 cars from Ma Wan to the Hong Kong transport network is going have an affect on transport density on the Lantau Link.

And I think both the Planning Department and the Transport Department must clearly know this the above points correct, without admitting it publicly.

Now, the line that stands out to me in the response that will give hope to those who want parking permitted for residents on Park Island (either for the convenience, or for the likely huge boost in property values that would occur as a result) is the one below:

Having said that, the Transport Department will keep monitoring the traffic condition on the Lantau Link upon opening of the Tuen Mun to Chek Lap Kok Link. This is currently planned for 2018, and thereafter we will consider reviewing and modifying the traffic management measures as when appropriate and necessary

There are likely different interpretations of this portion of the response, but my take on it is that it confirms what some have hoped/suspected for some time, which is that we will eventually get a limited amount of access to Park Island (my guess is either for owners, residents and perhaps limited to those who are willing to pay to buy or rent a car park).

This view is confirmed to me by someone familiar with Hong Kong Government issues, who told me that at the time that Park Island was being developed, there was actually a huge negotiation issue between Walter Kwok of SHKP and the Hong Kong Government over the price of the Ma Wan land, and in particular that the value of the land was highly dependent on whether private car access would be permitted, or not. The amount SHKP would have to pay for its Park Island development was significantly more if private car access was offered then if it was provided with "ferry access only". So that, is likely the reality, and the thing about being "environmentally friendly" and "traffic congestion" is more B.S. than anything. As any of us who have lived in Hong Kong for some time know, what so much comes down to is really one thing ... money. SHKP was not willing to pay the price for Park Island with car access, so they got a cheaper (and extremely attractive price) to develop the land as a high end resort intended, as second homes for wealthy Hong Hongers, who wanted easy access to a resort environment.
Walter Kwok Park Island
The reality of what happened is that Park Island became occupied by residents who were not the original target residents and owners by SHKP. Rather than wealthy part-time/weekend residents, Park Island instead became owned and occupied initially by Hong Kong people, and increasingly by Hong Hong based expats to whom the open spaces, resort-style facilities and air quality etc appeal. Clearly, the Government could not be seen to go back on what it originally agreed to when it did the SHKP deal and (at least right away) be seen to offer more to SHKP for the money SHKP paid, than what was agreed to. 

Having said that, there were a range of concessions that were made over time. First of all, a road was connected to Ma Wan, intended for "emergency services (fire service and ambulance), and "one-off" type access (eg for furniture delivery and service providers (plumbers, vets, builders, food delivery) and access was granted to buses. Over time this was extended to taxis, at first for limited times, and over time access hours for taxis was extended. What complicated things further was Walter Kwok's conviction for bribery, SHKP's continued interest in the development of Anacapri on Park Island, and the possible ownership of various penthouse apartments on Park Island by parties connected to the Kwok Brothers. And on top of all this, there remains the issue of the further development of the undeveloped part of Ma Wan as a high end marina/resort, for which SHKP is still a contender.

So there you have it. It's likely all about the $$$. Now having said that, the Government in Hong Kong is also quite practical. Why should people, not connected with SHKP, who have bought into Park Island be punished (or not benefit) from the granting of car access to residents? Yes, it would be a windfall for existing owners, in terms of property values, if car access was granted, but such a windfall would not be overly objectionable as none of these owners were a party to the original negotiations over Ma Wan with the Hong Kong Government. So, in a nutshell, the more time that passes, and the less that SHKP has an interest in Park Island, the more likely it is that we will get car access. When will this happen? I can't see it happening before 2018, and if I had to guess it will likely be tied up with both the opening of the Tuen Mun to Chek Lap Kok Link and the development of the old village side of Ma Wan. Whilst 2018 (or 2020) seems far away now, it will be here before we know it, and in my opinion this potential development makes Park Island property an investment with very compelling upside (whether simply for the benefits derived from direct private car access, or the consequent increase in property values).
When will private cars be allowed on Park Island?
Suitable locations for car park on Ma Wan

Comments

  1. Great update! This all make alot of sense.

    ReplyDelete
  2. If you look at the prices of Park Island they have not much grown faster than the rate of HK property overall. I do think though that the next 5 years they will grow quite a but more than HK becasue of this but also because in general Park Island is getting more desired. The secret is out folks and we know you all want to live here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Excellent research right there Park Island Blogger. You should be a finance journalist :)

    ReplyDelete
  4. I'm a supporter of this. It will change Park Island but surely for the better.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Agree in the end its all about the money. If you think about it, anyone who is prepared to take the risk and invest can do so now so its not really unfair as anyone can make the decision to buy and profit from this or not.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Hello. We are a family from Korea. Park Island is very nice. Transport is quite OK but it would be nice if we can drive our car here too.

    ReplyDelete
  7. How about this idea. Allow only electric cars like Tesla and BYD to enter park island. That would serve a dual purpose of keeping our air fresh but also encourage electric cars and also keep numbers down to only whose who have such cars which won't be too many.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Prices nudged up again this week. Same week after week. What an amazing market it is. Any how China is starting to stimulate even more!

    ReplyDelete
  9. The stock market in China and now in HK is suddenly absolutely booming! Some of that boom will definitely also spread over into HK property I would think. As for parking yes if they offer that on Park Island it woudl be like putting rocketfuel into the fire.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thanks for a helpful blog. Cars make sense and I would definately support and suggest electic powered cars be allowed on Ma Wan.

    ReplyDelete
  11. On the topic more generally of HK property prices HSBC just moved up all its Park Island valuations by a 1% or so.

    ReplyDelete
  12. fact is everywhere in hk increased. Park Island lags behind in the increase

    ReplyDelete
  13. Whole market in hk is starting to move up. The best thing about Park Island is the space and the high quality. It will outperform as it become better known among China buyers.

    ReplyDelete
  14. "Park Island lags behind the increase" haha clearly not informed. Over the past 11 months Park Island has gone up about 16% when HK Island went up 7%

    ReplyDelete
  15. Park Island blogger could you do an update on local flee market on Park Island? How much for a stall and what is featured for sale ans where and when is it?

    ReplyDelete
  16. Forget about cars, right now the big debate on the island is should prams be allowed on the park island busses. How petty is that? Park Island is a place full of young parents so lets try and be a little more considerate and parent understanding. Can you write about this issue please?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. There shouldn't be any need for a debate on the prams as long as prams are allowed in public places. Does anyone know how much are those units with rooftops around 1500sft costing now?

      Delete
    2. I think the pram debate has died down now. I think the same debate was held among HK public in general for with regard to prams on public transport.

      My view is that prams should be allowed on public transport, and that its impractical to require young mothers to fold prams etc. Clearly the people proposing this have not been parents before. I'm also inclined to be OK with larger musical instruments being taken on. We just need a little tolerance and commonsense. Personally, I am also relatively inclined to allow animals on public transport who travel as owners pets, and also bicycles.

      Delete
  17. Anyone know where the big fight can be watched on Park Island this Sunday? Will cafe Roma have a screen to show it? Or any friendly neighbours got it on cable.

    ReplyDelete
  18. HSBC valuations of Park Island are all up again this week.

    ReplyDelete
  19. you guys must be kidding mw. I have been living in Park Island for more than a decade, being owner and resident here, the increasing number of residents, dogs and visitors, which exacerbate the transportation demand, traffic, and pollution (air - increase the bus services however quite a lot of old buses are still in services , noise, and littering problem, serious hygienic problem.) If you like driving and you want to drive for commuting , Park Island should not be the consideration.

    The volume of traffic for Tsing Ma bridge connecting to Ma wan, not designed for letting residents have private car commuting and parking here. once small accident or a car breaks down, the traffic jam at bottle neck would paralyze all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I Can very much understand the sentiment of not wanting more traffic. Indeed, the sentiment of not wanting change is common in any community, whether on Park Island or elsewhere.

      I think from a financial perspective, there is no doubt that property prices would greatly benefit from road access. I understand though that not everyone is only motivated by this, and value things like peace and quiet etc over money.

      Personally, not just for the property value benefits, I would LOVE to be able to own and drive a nice car on those nice roads that lead to and from Park Island and have car access to the rest of HK. Although maybe with the increases use of Uber, and eventual self driving cars etc this will become less of an issue.

      I don't think having 500 or 1000 extra cars going to and from Park Island will make any significant impact at all on the Tsing Ma bridge traffic. When averaged out during the day, even allowing for peak times, its insignificant, although if needed it could be phased in to avoid peak hours.

      My proposal is that cars would not be allowed from the public (so limited only to residents), and then further limited to people who are prepared to rent or buy a car parking space under the Tsing Ma bridge (which means no additional traffic on the residential populated parts of Park Island.

      Also, once the Hong Kong–Zhuhai–Macau Bridge opens, this should also reduce traffic on the Tsing Ma bridge, which is when I think (and hope) traffic access to Ma Wan will be seriously considered.

      My guess is that traffic access will be seriously on the agenda if/when there is a further large scale development for Ma Wan put out to tender.

      Delete
  20. Yet, the roads are not designed for private cars in Ma Wan, insufficient road signs and lack of relevant traffic law and ordinance, which already created increasing number of traffic issues - illegal parking, speeding, reckless taxi drivers and those van drivers, also pedestrians . And noise from taxi and Park Island buses -car horning

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I agree with your comments on signage. Clearly if we were to allow residents access with private cars, we would need signage and appropriate parking etc.

      I also agree in general, that greater limits on speed should be imposed (applied to the taxis and buses that presently have access to Park Island).

      The roads themselves seem perfectly fine for private cars (no different than for taxis). The key thing in my view is to identify and provide for car parking (see my above suggestions), and to limit to residents only.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

How to calculate stamp duty for Hong Kong property purchase.

A nice Park Island apartment for rent