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Lands Department celebrates 25th anniversary (with photos)

    The Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, was confident that the Lands Department would build on its success and continue to provide even better land administration service for the public. Mr Suen made the remarks at the department's 25th anniversary cocktail reception today (April 27).

     "Over the past 25 years, the services delivered by the Lands Department have kept pace with the economic development and market trends of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) and its neighbouring regions.  The department has made continuous efforts to fine-tune its land administration policy and employ timely practices to meet the changing needs of the community.  It has also served the community with professionalism," Mr Suen said.

     Speaking on the establishment of the department and its diverse achievements during the past quarter century, the Director of Lands, Mr Patrick Lau, also said that in the conduct of  duties, there was still plenty of room for improvement in mindset and work procedures.  "We will further enhance our operational transparency, more promptly respond to public requests, and strengthen the internal monitoring and review of our working procedures and progress of work."

     The Lands Department was established on April 1, 1982, bringing together the former Crown Lands and Survey Office (then responsible for land matters in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island), and the lands section of the City and New Territories Administration (then responsible for land matters in the New Territories), as well as the Town Planning Division of the former Public Works Department (now the Planning Department).  Staff were also deployed from the Land Office of the Registrar General to LandsD to provide the department with legal advisory service. Eleven years after its inception in 1982, the Lands Department took on its current Chinese name in 1993.  

     "Over the past 25 years, although our workload continued to grow and the issues we have to deal with have got more and more complicated, the department now has only 3,888 staff members to take up the administration of nearly 97,000 hectares of land within the entire HKSAR.  Our land administration duties include land valuation, land acquisition, estate management, land lease, land survey, map production, slope maintenance, approving the pre-sale of uncompleted flats and deeds of mutual covenant," Mr Lau said.

     In respect of land administration, about 500 hectares of land have altogether been successfully sold by means of auction and tender in the past 25 years, generating a total premium of more than $260 billion for the Treasury.  "This, coupled with the premium and rental income derived from other forms of land grant, lease modification and short term tenancies have been the major source of Government revenue for all these years," Mr Lau said.

     "Also, we would grant land by way of private treaty or other means for various infrastructural projects and for the construction of major projects which are vital to the overall development of Hong Kong, such as Chek Lap Kok Airport, container terminals, commercial and residential development above railway stations, and Hong Kong Disneyland."

     On the work of urban renewal, the department has assisted the then Land Development Corporation and now the Urban Renewal Authority in completing 25 urban renewal projects, making endeavors for the sustained development and urban renewal of Hong Kong. The department has also approved more than 23,000 applications for the development of the so-called small houses under the ˇ§Small House Policy of the New Territories".

     "Concerning land surveying, the Survey and Mapping Office each year takes more than 10,000 new aerial photos and updates more than 11,000 digital maps to meet the needs of Government departments and the public.  Over the years, the sale of maps, including the Hong Kong Guide published annually, continued to grow and generated a revenue of $8.2 million for the Treasury last year," Mr Lau said.

     On the other hand, the department has set up the "Systematic Identification of Maintenance Responsibility of Slopes" (SIMAR) system, which stores information on the maintenance responsibility of about 17,900 slopes in the territory.  The public, through the internet, could have access to information concerning the plans and details of the maintenance responsibility of the slopes near their properties so that they can arrange for regular inspections and protective maintenance works to be carried out.

     The department's Legal Advisory and Conveyancing Office has approved, since its establishment up to February this year, more than 600 applications for pre-sale consent involving more than 330,000 residential units and a large number of commercial units; as well as approved more than 800 Deeds of Mutual Covenant and Deeds of Mutual Covenant & Management Agreements.

     To help the public better understand the work of the Lands Department, a series of roving exhibitions will be launched from next month (May) at various locations, including the 10 government offices where the District Lands Offices are situated and the Central Library in Causeway Bay.

Ends/Friday, April 27, 2007
Issued at HKT 18:12


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