Hong Kong Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor poses for the media at the press conference after she delivered her fifth Policy Address at the Legislative Council, Hong Kong on Oct 6, 2021. (EDMOND TANG / CHINA DAILY)
HONG KONG – Chief Executive Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor on Wednesday outlined a far-reaching proposal to transform northern Hong Kong into a thriving metropolis offering 650,000 new jobs to city residents.
In her Policy Address titled "Building a Bright Future Together", Lam said the Northern Metropolis will be developed into an international innovation and technology hub that would be home to some 2.5 million people and offer 150,000 jobs in the I&T sector.
The new metropolis, covering about 300 square kilometers, will include the Yuen Long and North districts and follow the Shenzhen-Hong Kong Boundary Control Points Economic Belt from west to east, as well as the deeper hinterlands.
Chief Executive Carrie Lam said the Northern Metropolis will be developed into an international innovation and technology hub that would be home to some 2.5 million people and offer 150,000 jobs in the I&T sector
Lam said it will become the most important area in Hong Kong, facilitating the city's development integration with Shenzhen and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area.
In targeting I&T, the Northern Metropolis will serve as an innovative complement to the Harbour Metropolis, Lam said.
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Supporting Hong Kong's status as an international financial center, the Harbour Metropolis will expand to embrace the reclaimed land of the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands under the Lantau Tomorrow Vision.
"These two metropolises, spearheading their respective economic engines and complementing each other, will drive the future development of Hong Kong," Lam said.
The Northern Metropolis will be connected by a railway-centered transport system. It will include construction of the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Railway linking Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen and Qianhai in Shenzhen, and an extension of the planned Northern Link northwards to connect to the new Huanggang Port in Shenzhen via the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Innovation and Technology Park in the Lok Ma Chau Loop.
Land supply is critical to the Northern Metropolis' I&T plans. The Northern Metropolis Development Strategy proposes to make optimal use of the land vacated upon relocation of the Lok Ma Chau Control Point to the new Huanggang Boundary Control Point in Shenzhen, along with some rural land and adjacent fish ponds, Lam said.
This, together with the original land-use plans for the San Tin/Lok Ma Chau Development Node, will provide about 150 hectares of additional land for developing the San Tin Technopole.
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Lam said land supply would also be critical to ensuring that the Northern Metropolis offers a "home-job balance" in the most vibrant area where urban development and major population growth of Hong Kong in the next 20 years will take place.
A number of development projects, planned or under planning, in the Northern Metropolis are expected to provide about 350,000 residential units. An additional 600 hectares of land could be developed for residential and industry use, offering up to 186,000 residential units.
Lam said that "Urban-Rural Integration and Co-existence of Development and Conservation" will distinguish the Northern Metropolis, creating an area "ideal for people to live, work and travel".
The area is blessed with a variety of habitats, including wetlands to the west, a vast area of fish ponds in the center and, to the east, the proposed Robin's Nest Country Park, a marine park and the world-class Geopark.
The plan calls for a proactive conservation policy, Lam said, adding that about 2,000 hectares of conservation area, including the Mai Po Inner Deep Bay Ramsar Site, will be enhanced, achieving better conservation of wetlands in Hong Kong while creating a quality living environment for the Northern Metropolis.
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