LCQ15: Land supply

     Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 1):


     The Development Bureau has recently proposed 25 sites for reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and conducted public consultation which has triggered much discussion in the community. It has been learnt that some members of the public are of the view that given the possible environmental impact of reclamation outside Victoria Harbour as well as its high costs, the Government should consider developing the brownfield sites in the New Territories. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the areas of brownfield sites currently available for development in various District Council districts in Hong Kong; and

(b) of the areas of the various types of land listed below, and list the breakdown by District Council district in the following table:

(i) land for open storage and not for agricultural use before the Town Planning (Amendment) Ordinance 1991 was enacted on January 25, 1991 to extend statutory planning control to cover the rural areas in the New Territories;

(ii) land which has been granted by the Government for temporary uses (including open storage, car parks and container yards) at present;

(iii) land, apart from those in (b)(i) and (ii), which has been granted by the Government under short-term tenancies as vehicle repair workshops, resource recovery parks and for other uses at present; and

(iv) land which is being occupied temporarily by the Government for developing infrastructure and other uses?

Land area                 District Council
(hectares)                districts
----------                ----------------
                          (e.g. Yuen Long District)

Brownfield sites
Land in (b)(i)
Land in (b)(ii)
Land in (b)(iii)
Land in (b)(iv)



     Committed to supplying sufficient land to meet housing, social and economic needs, the Administration has been closely monitoring land uses in the New Territories. Apart from new town developments already completed and large-scale developments in northeast and northwest New Territories currently under planning, we are also making continuous efforts to identify other sites available for development. These include exploring the use of abandoned or under-utilised rural land for residential development. We have now identified four sites in Kwu Tung South, Yuen Long South, Fanling/Sheung Shui and Kong Nga Po. Planning and engineering studies will be carried out to determine the feasibility and possible scale of residential development on these sites. However, to meet the demand for land arising from our economic development and population growth, we have to explore alternative means of land supply and further enhance our land supply strategy. In this connection, the Administration is conducting studies and consultation on reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development, so as to devise a more comprehensive mix of supply options to build up land reserve to support the long-term development of Hong Kong. Apart from increasing land supply, reclamation outside Victoria Harbour will make it possible to re-use surplus public fill and handle contaminated sediments in an environmentally-friendly manner. We will also advocate the use of cutting-edge technologies, including reclamation without dredging of marine mud and re-establishing natural marine habitats by eco-shoreline, etc.

     Stage 1 Public Engagement on Enhancing Land Supply Strategy was launched in November 2011 to seek public views on reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development as well as to establish the site selection criteria. After surveying the coastlines throughout the territory and excluding those areas that are subject to serious constraints and thus not suitable for reclamation, we have come up with a list of 25 potential reclamation sites as examples to facilitate the community's examination and discussion of the site selection criteria. I have to point out that reclamation outside Victoria Harbour will have to comply with the principles of sustainability and requirements under the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance. From a cost perspective, reclaiming land from the sea normally does not require resumption of private land and the average cost will be lower than that for developing rural areas in the New Territories.  

     Up to now, the Government has yet to decide whether to carry out reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and the criteria to be adopted in selecting sites for reclamation. The potential types and locations of reclamation can also be revised in light of public views. Our next step is to gauge the community's acceptance of reclamation, review the list of potential sites, draw up site selection criteria and identify feasible sites for discussion at Stage 2 Public Engagement. We hope to identify about 10 reclamation sites by mid-2012 for detailed feasibility study and further public consultation. It would be detrimental to our goal of building up a land reserve to cope with Hong Kong's long-term development if we already rule out at this stage the feasibility of reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and completely discard this option.

     Our reply to the two-part question is as follows:

(a) The total land area of Hong Kong is about 1,108 square kilometres, of which about 24% (around 263 square kilometres) are developed sites, including residential, commercial, industrial and community facilities, as well as transport and other infrastructures. The "brownfield sites available for development" mentioned in the question could be interpreted to mean sites which have been formed but yet to be developed, such as the some 40 hectares of reclaimed land for the West Kowloon Cultural District or old areas available for redevelopment, such as the some 320 hectares of land from the former Kai Tak Airport in the Kai Tak Development Area. The Administration does not have comprehensive statistics of such "brownfield sites available for development" and is unable to provide breakdown by District Council district in this regard.

(b)(i) Before the applicability of the Town Planning Ordinance was extended to the New Territories in 1991, rural areas in the New Territories were not covered by any statutory land use plans. Thus, it could not be established whether the land in those areas were planned for agricultural use. Before the commencement of that ordinance, there were approximately 386 hectares of land in the New Territories used for open storage, among which 45% were used for storage of building materials and equipment, 23% for storage of vehicles and 13% for storage of containers, with regional distribution as follows (the Administration does not have a breakdown by District Council district):

District                     Area
--------            --------------------------
Northwest           approximately 229 hectares
New Territories
Northeast           approximately 138 hectares
New Territories
Southwest           approximately 4 hectares
New Territories
Southeast           approximately 15 hectares
New Territories

(ii) and (iii) Data on land granted by the Government for temporary uses (including open storage, car parks and container yards) and land granted under short-term tenancies for use as vehicle repair workshops and resource recovery parks as at December 2011 are provided below (breakdown by District Lands Offices):

                                 Vehicle repair
               Open storage,     workshops and
               car parks and     resource
               container yards   recovery parks
District       (square metres)   (square metres)
--------       ---------------    --------------
Hong Kong East      61,650             4,950
Hong Kong West      28,450               130
and South               
Kowloon East       229,450             8,950
Kowloon West       161,650             5,290
Islands             61,210               340
North              178,810            18,130
Sai Kung           163,250             2,940
Sha Tin            122,360             3,040
Tai Po              54,150            13,710
Tsuen Wan and    1,077,030             4,570
Kwai Tsing                 
Tuen Mun           200,390             1,390
Yuen Long          224,410             3,440

     The leasing of sites which are temporarily not required for long-term purposes under short-term tenancies is consistent with the principle of optimal utilisation of land. As there are numerous uses for land under short-term tenancies, including gardens in rural areas, golf courses, cargo handling sites, ship repair yards, electricity sub-stations, MTRC work sites, etc., we are currently unable to provide details.

(iv) As at December 2011, there were approximately 866 hectares of land under temporary government land allocation for infrastructure development and other uses, including those in the Kai Tak Development Area, West Kowloon Cultural District, Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai Boundary Control Point, Whitehead Development Area, works areas for widening of Tuen Mun Road, Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link and other government projects. Upon completion of works, some of the land will be permanently used for infrastructure purpose.

Ends/Wednesday, February 1, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:20