Town Planning Board announces new and revised guidelines

    The Town Planning Board (the Board) today (November 2) announced a set of new guidelines for the designation of "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Rural Use" ("OU(RU)") zone on statutory town plans and for assessing planning application for development within the zone.  The Board also announced a set of revised guidelines for application for open storage and port back-up uses, to facilitate public understanding on the assessment criteria of such applications.

     For the new guidelines on "OU(RU)", the planning intention of the "OU(RU)" zone is primarily for the preservation of the character of the rural area.  Uses contributing to the rural character and passive recreational uses compatible with the rural environment are permitted as of right.  

     Some low-rise and low-density developments (up to a maximum plot ratio of 0.4 and a maximum building height of 3 storeys) compatible with the rural landscape (for example, selected recreational uses and low-rise, low-density residential development) may be permitted on application to the TPB.  

     The Guidelines clearly set out the criteria for "OU(RU)" zoning designation and assessment of planning application therein.  One of the key considerations would be whether such rezoning will help contribute to the preservation of the general character of the rural area and/or whether the subsequent development will be compatible with the existing and planned land uses in the surrounding areas.  

     Areas with ecological/conservation values or sites with cultural heritage values will not be considered for rezoning to "OU(RU)" zone.  Development within the "OU(RU)" zone should not overstrain the capacity of existing and planned infrastructure.  

     "In the preparation of the Guidelines, close liaison has been made with the relevant green groups, and the Heung Yee Kuk has also been consulted" the spokesman of the Board said.  

     In respect of the revised guidelines for open storage and port back-up uses, the spokesman said that the revision follows a review of the guidelines adopted in April 2003.  It has taken into account the needs of the trade and the views of the local community and green groups.

     The revision involves redistribution and re-categorization of areas amongst the 4 categories of land.  It is intended to strike a proper balance of the different interests in respect of open storage/port back-up uses.  Land in the close proximity to the existing and proposed cross boundary links in the North West New Territories has been categorized as Category 1 areas where applications would normally receive favourable consideration.  For the Category 2 areas, application involving proposals to continue current open storage/port back-up uses on temporary basis up to 3 years would be considered.

     Applications in Category 3 and Category 4 areas will normally not receive favourable consideration.  The intention of Category 3 areas is to confine open storage/port back-up uses to the previously approved sites.  New sites would not be allowed unless under exceptional circumstances.  Whilst for Category 4 areas, the intention is to phase out such uses as soon as possible, a maximum period of 2 years would be considered upon renewal of existing planning permission for the applicant to identify suitable sites for relocation, but no further renewal would be considered.  

     "The objective of the Guidelines is to channel open storage and port back-up uses, especially temporary ones, to suitable areas.  In assessing such applications, the Board will continue to strike a proper balance between sustaining economic activities and protecting our environment," the spokesman explained.

     The two sets of guidelines are available at the Planning Enquiry Counters of the Planning Department and the Board's website (

Ends/Wednesday, November 2, 2005
Issued at HKT 21:44