Sha Tin – Modern New Town
Sha Tin, a stretch of land in the valley by the Sha Tin Sea, was called Lek Yuen (literally “origin of clear water”) long before the start of British rule in Hong Kong. Residents there used to make their living by farming. The only links with urban Kowloon before the mid-1950s were the railway, and Tai Po Road. Closer contact with urban Kowloon only began when the Lion Rock Tunnel was opened in 1967.
When the government decided to carry out the new-town development, a massive reclamation project was conducted on the two sides of the Sha Tin Sea, narrowing it to a waterway just wide enough for boats to sail in. As part of the “Ten Year Housing Programme” announced in 1972, several brand new public housing estates, such as Lek Yeun Estate, Wo Che Estate, and Sha Kok Estate, were built on the reclaimed land. The area around was also developed into a new town centre, in which are found a town hall, a library, sports grounds, and a stadium. Meanwhile, Fo Tan, the area nearby, was planned as an industrial zone. With urban Kowloon in close proximity, and the diversity of three transport routes, Sha Tin’s holistic planning soon attracted the investment of private developers. Private residential blocks and modern shopping malls sprang up one after the other. Sha Tin’s development became diversified, both in terms of employment opportunities and population demographics. It soon became a model new town of successful balanced development.