HKU’s proposed innovation hub faces backlash over environmental and traffic concerns

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26th May 2024 – (Hong Kong) A plan by the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to develop a large innovation research hub in Pok Fu Lam has met with substantial resistance from local residents, raising concerns about environmental damage and increased traffic. Over 3,000 community members have expressed their disapproval, suggesting an alternative location and threatening legal action to halt the project.

Gregory De Eb, spokesperson for the HKUGIC Public Representation Group, highlighted that while the concept of a global innovation centre is broadly supported, Pok Fu Lam is considered unsuitable. Instead, the group recommends relocating the hub to the San Tin Technopole in Yuen Long, closer to the mainland China border.

The proposed site, spanning 11.6 acres near Queen Mary Hospital, is envisioned to become a leading academic and scientific research facility. However, the development would lead to the removal of over 2,000 trees and is situated on a green belt, necessitating rezoning approval from the Town Planning Board.

Local lawmaker Judy Chan Kapui and other critics have proposed alternatives like the former Lamma Quarry, suggesting that it would mitigate the environmental impact while accommodating the project’s scale.

The Town Planning Board is currently reviewing public feedback on the project, with a decision expected in the coming months. Meanwhile, community leaders warn that if the project proceeds without adequate public consultation and mitigation of concerns, a judicial review may be pursued as a last resort. The controversy underscores the broader challenges Hong Kong faces in balancing development and environmental conservation amidst a land shortage.