I have mentioned several times that Discovery Bay is unique in Hong Kong, in that the development on the Lot is not limited under the lease. Instead, development is controlled through two documents, the Master Plan and the DMC. The Master Plan controls the what and where. The DMC controls how much, through the share regime under the DMC.
In respect of the Master Plan, Lands Department exercises control over development through Special Condition 6(b) of the Land Grant, which states: “…no alterations whatsoever shall be made by the Grantee to the Master Layout Plan or to the development or any redevelopment without the prior consent in writing of the Secretary…”
In addition, the Master Plan controls use through Special Condition No. 7, which states “…the lot or any part thereof or any building or buildings erected or to be erected thereon shall not be used and the Grantee shall not permit or suffer the use thereof for any purpose other than for the purposes … indicated on the Master Layout Plan.”
Thus, the Master Plan is the key to understanding and controlling the development on the Lot.
However, a review of the “6” series master plans posted at the sidebar makes it clear that Lands Department has allowed considerable development to take place without requiring the developer to obtain prior approval through the Master Plan.
To take one obvious example, Central Park is not a permitted use of land at N1 under MP 6.0E1, as there was no provision for “Public Recreation” within N1 under the Plan. Only in recent years are the draft master plans catching up to the actual development on the Lot.
Even under draft MP 6.0E7g, Central Park is improperly shown as Open Space/Public Recreation and coloured light green. Only on the most recent drafts is Central Park (N7) properly shown as Public Recreation and coloured dark green. The colours represent the uses shown on the Legend on the right of the Plan.
The fact that development of Central Park was allowed to proceed without proper control under the Master Plan had significant financial implications for the small owners and residents of Discovery Bay. Between 2002 and 2012, owners and residents were charged for the upkeep of Central Park, as it was not officially recognised as “Public Recreation”. Only when Lands Department required HKR to sign the Undertaking was this burden removed.
The total cost to the small owners and residents during that 10-year period was well over $15 million.