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LCQ4: Direct Land Grant

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 19):


     According to a press release issued by the Government on November 24, 2010, the Government will allocate a government site of about 2,100 square metres in area on Borrett Road in Mid-levels West to the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Hong Kong (OCMFA) at a nominal premium of $1,000 for its extension works.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Government will review its mechanism for allocating land to the offices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other consulates in Hong Kong in response to the repercussion caused by this land allocation on the community; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) given that the Government has pointed out that the land granted to OCMFA was originally zoned for "Government, Institution or Community" use and the Planning Department has also confirmed that the extension to be built by OCMFA on the land in question is of "Government use" and, therefore, it is not required to apply for planning permission from the Town Planning Board or conduct public consultation as stipulated in the Town Planning Ordinance, whether "Government" in "Government use" includes offices of the Central People's Government (CPG's offices) in Hong Kong; if so, of the justifications; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) apart from this allocation of land to OCMFA for extension works, whether the Government has allocated other sites, sold or let properties to CPG's offices in Hong Kong (including the former Hong Kong Branch of the Xinhua News Agency, the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region and OCMFA), or has assisted such offices in their acquisition of land or properties through non-market channels, since July 1, 1997; if it has, of the details, including the premium, property price, rent, time of land allocation, date of purchase or starting date of lease of such properties, as well as the procedures for such transactions, etc.; if the Government cannot provide such information, of the reasons for that?



     The Government has granted an extension lot to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in order to meet additional accommodation needs of the Office of the Commissioner of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (OCMFA) in Hong Kong.  A nominal premium of $1,000 is charged and this amount is applicable to all cases charging a nominal premium.

     My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) The Government does not have a mechanism for allocating land to the offices of the MFA and other consulates in Hong Kong.  Generally speaking, most Government land available for commercial, industrial or residential development is sold by public auction or tender.  Apart from this, we also grant land directly to organisations for specified use in justified circumstances, to comply with approved Government policies and to meet Hong Kong's economic, social and community needs.  Such land grant applications are prudently considered based on individual circumstances of each application.  All such cases of direct land grant have to be subject to stringent policy scrutiny and are thoroughly considered to be justified in the public interest, with specific approval granted by the Executive Council (ExCo) or by delegated authority exercised in accordance with the approval criteria set by ExCo, on a case by case basis.

The policy considerations that the Government will take into account in handling this type of cases include: whether the development proposal complies with approved Government policies or assists to meet pre-determined policy objectives; the assessed economic or other benefits of the proposal, the strategic importance of the proposal; whether it is the right timing to make the proposed application; and the ability of the applicant in financing the implementation of the proposal, etc.  Unequivocal policy support from the relevant bureaux/departments must also be secured before the application for direct land grant can be processed.

     The abovementioned policy of direct land grant is long established, and has worked well.  It has proven to be effective in ensuring the timely and optimal development of the land resources to keep pace with the social and economic development of Hong Kong, for the purpose of meeting Hong Kong's economic, social and community needs in a timely and appropriate manner.  There is no need for a review.

(b) The extension lot falls within a "Government, Institution or Community" (G/IC) zone on the Mid-levels West Outline Zoning Plan (OZP).  Both the zoning of the extension lot and the content of its development are the same as those of the parent lot.  According to the definition of terms adopted by the Town Planning Board, "Government use" means any place, structure or premises used directly in connection with or in support of Government administration, or the provision of Government services and facilities.  OCMFA is a Government office established by the Central People's Government (CPG) in Hong Kong and is responsible for the foreign affairs relating to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR).  Since these services directly support the operation of the HKSAR Government, both the existing lot and extension lot of OCMFA are regarded as "Government use".

(c) Since July 1, 1997, apart from the extension lot for the construction of additional premises by OCMFA, the HKSAR Government has not allocated, sold or let other Government sites or properties to Government offices set up by the CPG in Hong Kong.  As already mentioned, Government land available for commercial, industrial or residential development is generally sold in the market by public auction or tender.  The Government will also grant land directly for specified use under specified circumstances and through stringent policy scrutiny.  However, we do not describe this type of land grant as a "non-market channel".  The sale and leasing of private land and buildings is carried out in accordance with market arrangement, or is agreed voluntarily by the purchaser and the vendor, or by the landlord and tenant.

Ends/Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:04


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