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HASPC endorses return of former North Point Estate site to the Government

The following is issued on behalf of the Housing Authority:

     The Housing Authority (HA)'s Strategic Planning Committee (SPC) endorsed today (13 September) the return of the former North Point Estate (NPE) site to the Government without compensation.

     A spokesman for the HA said the decision was made in the interest of the public.

     "The NPE site has been left vacant for some years and the full potential of the site can only be realized through early redevelopment," he said.

     The spokesman added that the decision had taken into consideration the financial position of the HA and the Government's long standing commitment to the provision of sufficient free land for public housing.

     He said: "Subsequent to the divestment of its retail and car-parking facilities in 2005 and the retention of the divestment proceeds amounting to around $34 billion, the HA's financial position has improved substantially and should be sustainable in the medium term even without the compensation."

     Members also noted that the Committee's decision today would not undermine the sustainability of the HA's public rental housing programme, as it was the Government's long-standing commitment to provide the HA with sufficient free land to build public rental housing for the needy, so as to meet the pledge of maintaining the average waiting time for public rental housing at around three years.

     "The issue should be considered in the overall context of the relationship between HA and the Government in the provision of public housing," the spokesman said.

     "Indeed, for many years HA has been returning unused sites to the Government without compensation," he added.

     The NPE was completed in 1957. In view of its age and huge maintenance costs, the HA made a decision in 2000 to redevelop the estate. It was subsequently demolished in 2003.

     The NPE site was originally planned to be redeveloped together with the adjoining government land to produce both subsidized home ownership flats and private residential flats under a Mixed Development Scheme. However, the Scheme was dropped in 2002 following the administrationˇ¦s repositioning of the housing policy. It was also considered no longer suitable for public housing development.

     The HA subsequently agreed to return the site to the Government for disposal in the open market, subject to a financial arrangement whereby HA would share part of the future land-sale proceeds, but an agreement could not be reached with the Government in developing the detailed provisions of the financial arrangement.

     The spokesman pointed out that the former NPE occupied a water-front site with a total area of 27 776 m2. "Any prolonged idleness of the site would be a waste of precious land resources," he said.

     In making the decision, the SPC had thoroughly considered other options of financial or land compensation, but concluded that they were neither appropriate nor feasible for the North Point Estate case.

     The Housing Department would follow up with the Lands Department to prepare for the return of the site.

Ends/Thursday, September 13, 2007
Issued at HKT 20:20


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