Mon, Sep 09, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Expressway decision will not hurt market: analysts

‘MOST VIBRANT’ MARKET:CLSA said that a court’s rejection of the environmental assessment will have a limited impact on Tamsui, and contruction might go ahead

By Kevin Chen  /  Staff reporter

A court’s rejection of an environmental impact assessment report for the proposed expressway linking New Taipei City’s (新北市) Tamsui District (淡水) and Taipei’s Beitou District (北投) might have a lower-than-expected impact on the real-estate market in Tamsui, CLSA Securities Taiwan Ltd said last week.

Researchers at the brokerage said in a note on Friday that Tamsui remains the “most vibrant housing market” in the Greater Taipei area, after the number of potential home buyers visiting pre-sale property sites and the actual sale of existing home units recovered strongly last month.

Sinyi Realty Inc (信義房屋) researcher Tseng Ching-der (曾敬德) also said the issue should not negatively affect market sentiment, because the government is also planning other transportation projects in Tamsui, including a light-rail system and a bridge linking Tamsui to Bali District (八里).

The researchers’ remarks came after the Taipei High Administrative Court on Wednesday last week rejected the Environmental Protection Administration’s (EPA) assessment report for the planned Tamsui-Taipei expressway project along the Tamsui River.

The court said its decision was based on concerns that the construction project might have a negative impact on the natural environment of the nearby Mangrove Forest Preservation Area. However, the New Taipei City Government said it would continue the expressway project.

CLSA said the administrative court’s ruling was not a final ruling and the EPA could appeal the case at a higher court or redraft the assessment report for a second-stage assessment.

The brokerage also said previous cases suggested that construction of major infrastructure projects could continue even though their environmental assessment reports were revoked, citing the example of the phase-three expansion project of the Central Taiwan Science Park (中部科學園區).

In March 2011, the Taipei High Administrative Court ordered the science park to halt construction of the project in Greater Taichung’s Houli District (后里) over concerns about the health risks to residents in nearby areas, but construction of new factories planned by flat panel producer AU Optronics Corp (友達光電) and solar cell producer Sunner Technology Corp (旭能光電) has continued there without any delay.

“We are confident work on the expressway will proceed,” CLSA property researchers Frank Lin and Scott Wang said in the note. “Other transport infrastructure projects are more important to attracting property buyers than the expressway, so this issue should have limited impact on sell-through.”

In addition to the planned Green Mountain Route and Blue Sea Route to extend the Tamsui MRT system, as well as the proposed Tamkang Bridge connecting Tamsui and Taipei Harbor in Bali, Sinyi Realty said a large price gap between Tamsui and Taipei could still attract potential home buyers.

Based on the Taipei broker’s latest statistics, average home prices near Tamsui MRT station are about NT$173,000 per ping (3.3m2), the lowest among a number of areas close to MRT stations in Greater Taipei. The highest prices are those close to Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Hall station, at NT$756,000 per ping, Sinyi data showed.

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