The notice for commencement of the Town Planning (Amendment) Ordinance (Amendment Ordinance) is published in the Gazette today (April 15) and will be tabled for negative vetting by the Legislative Council (Legco) on April 20. Subject to the passage by Legco, the Amendment Ordinance will come into operation on June 10, 2005.
The main objectives of the Amendment Ordinance are to enhance the transparency of the planning system, streamline the town planning process, and strengthen planning enforcement control in the rural New Territories. The Amendment Ordinance was passed by Legco on July 7, 2004.
According to the Amendment Ordinance, the Town Planning Board (TPB) is required to specify the period under the definition of "current land owner" and Class A and Class B amendments to previously granted planning permission by notice published in the Gazette. The "current land owner" is now defined as the person who is registered as an owner of the application site at the Land Registry six weeks before the application is made. In tandem with the notice for commencement, the TPB also publishes a notice for each of the above specifications in the Gazette today.
Under the Amendment Ordinance, an applicant for amendment of plan or for planning permission will be required to obtain the consent of or notify the "current land owner" of the application site or take 'reasonable steps' to do so. Class A amendments will be exempted from further application while Class B amendments are subject to the approval of the TPB upon application but such application will be exempted from the owner's consent/notification and publication requirements. The list of Class A and Class B amendments can also be found in the TPB Guidelines on Class A and Class B Amendments to Approved Development Proposals (TPB PG-No. 36) promulgated by the TPB today.
Upon the commencement of the Amendment Ordinance, the transparency and public participation in the planning process would be greatly enhanced. All meetings of the TPB or its committees will be open to the public except for the deliberation part in consideration of representations to draft plans and planning applications and some special circumstances. The general public are allowed to observe the proceedings of the TPB meetings in a public viewing room located at 15/F of the North Point Government Offices. However, in the first few months when the TPB is still dealing with the outstanding applications and reviews submitted before the commencement of the Amendment Ordinance or objections to plans which have been exhibited before the commencement, the meetings for consideration of these cases will not be opened up.
To facilitate implementation of the Amendment Ordinance, the Town Planning Board has also promulgated new application forms, guidance notes for applications, guidance notes for hearing, rules for observation of TPB meetings as well as eights sets of TPB Guidelines today. For all planning applications submitted after the commencement of the Amendment Ordinance, the applicants must use the new application forms, and are advised to read the relevant Guidance Notes before completing the forms.
Consultation with the stakeholder groups on the eight sets of TPB Guidelines was held between September and December, 2004. A report summarizing the outcome of the consultation and the Government's responses to the comments received is available at the TPB's website (http://www.info.gov.hk/tpb).
All the above-mentioned application forms, guidance notes and TPB Guidelines are now available for public inspection at the Secretariat of the TPB at 15/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong (Tel: 2231 4810 or 2231 4835) and the Planning Enquiry Counters of the Planning Department (Hotline: 2231 5000) at 17/F., North Point Government Offices and 14/F, Sha Tin Government Offices, 1 Sheung Wo Che Road, Sha Tin.
Any enquiries on the TPB Guidelines, new application forms and guidance notes, and the transitional arrangements may be addressed to the Secretariat of the TPB or the Planning Enquiry Counters of the Planning Department or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ends/Friday, April 15, 2005