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LCQ17: Redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate
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     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Ms Eva Cheng, in the Legislative Council today (May 9):

Question:

     The Government announced earlier that Pak Tin Estate in Sham Shui Po would be redeveloped in three phases starting next year in order to increase the supply of public housing flats.  Quite a number of the existing residents of Pak Tin Estate have relayed to me their worries in this matter.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  of the works for repair, renovation or addition of public facilities carried out by the Housing Department (HD) at Pak Tin Estate in the 12 months before the announcement of the implementation of the redevelopment of the estate; the amount of money involved; among such works, the number of renovation works which had just been completed this year or have yet to be completed so far;

(b)  when the idea of increasing the supply of public housing by redeveloping Pak Tin Estate was first proposed; why the redevelopment was suddenly proposed after funding had just been granted for the maintenance and renovation works, and whether prior consideration had been given to the question of wasting public funds;

(c)  whether the authorities will make an undertaking to the residents affected by the redevelopment that the sizes of the public housing flats to be allocated to them in the future will be similar to those of the flats they resided in originally;

(d)  given that some residents are concerned that they need to pay higher rents after they have been rehoused to other estates, whether HD will take this as an exceptional case and allow the residents of Pak Tin Estate to continue to pay the original rents within the first two years upon rehousing to other estates when the rents of their new flats are higher than those of their previous ones;

(e)  regarding the existing commercial tenants at Pak Tin Estate, whether the authorities have any measure in place to help tenants who wish to continue their operation to find new shops with low rents (e.g. whether the authorities have considered giving these commercial tenants priority allocation of the shops at the new Shek Kip Mei Estate nearby in order to enable them to continue their operation); and

(f)  given that according to the current proposal of the Government, the residents affected by the first phase of redevelopment will not be able to opt for rehousing at the redeveloped Pak Tin Estate, whether the authorities will consider exercising discretion to allow the residents who wish to move back to their original estate upon the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate to have priority in doing so?

Reply :

President,

My reply to the six-part question is as follows íV

(a) & (b)  The Government announced in the 2011/12 Policy Address that it will open up new sites and explore ways to appropriately increase the densities and plot ratios of public rental housing (PRH) projects without compromising the living environment in order to achieve the PRH production target.  

     As such, in addition to continue applying the two-pillar criteria of structural safety and economic repair for consideration of redevelopment of aged estates under the result of Comprehensive Structural Inspection Programme (CSIP), the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) will also examine the build-back potential of aged PRH estates bearing in mind the availability of suitable rehousing resources, so as to strike a balance between the sustainability of buildings and the redevelopment potential of these estates.  Taking into account the local residents' aspirations for redevelopment of the older portion of Pak Tin Estate, the HA's Strategic Planning Committee considered the build-back potential of the older portion of the Pak Tin Estate, the availability of suitable rehousing resources, as well as the structural conditions of the estate and cost for comprehensive repair, and approved in January 2012 the preliminary master plan for the phased clearance and redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate.

     To cater for the need of PRH tenants on barrier-free access, especially the elderly and disabled persons, the HA included Pak Tin Estate and other PRH estates into the enhancement programme for pedestrian facilities some years ago.  Enhancement works in designated PRH estates include provision of new lifts and footbridges in external areas within PRH estate boundaries to connect elevated platforms with large-level differences, and addition of lift towers to PRH blocks built without lift services.  The HA has committed to have the enhancement programme completed in 2012.  As for the Pak Tin Estate, the works for addition of lifts for Blocks 2 and 12 commenced in January 2011, well before the implementation of the refined policy on redevelopment.  When the plan for redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate was announced, the construction works of addition lift towers had been nearly completed.  Should we decide to stop the construction works at that time, HA would have to reimburse the concerned contractor the relevant construction and compensated costs that would be near to the total construction cost.  Given that the works were scheduled for completion by mid-2012 and the new lifts would serve the elderly and the disabled and facilitate tenant relocation, HA decided to proceed with the original plan on the works.

     In addition, the lift modernisation programme in all existing PRH estates is an on-going programme to modernise lifts aged over 25 years.  The HA awarded in July 2009 tenders for the modernisation of 11 lifts in Blocks 9-11 of Pak Tin Estate, well before the implementation of the refined policy on redevelopment.  Relevant works commenced in March 2010 and are scheduled for completion by 2013.  When the plan for the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate was announced, the lift modernisation works of eight lifts were either in progress or completed.  As advised above, should we decide to stop the lift modernisation works at that time, HA would have to reimburse the concerned contractor the relevant construction and compensated costs that would be near to the total construction cost.  Given that the works were scheduled for completion by 2013 and the HA expected that the lifts would be in use by tenants for eight years or so after completion of all the modernisation works, HA decided to proceed with the original plan on the works.  On the other hand, the Housing Department (HD) is also exploring the technical feasibility of recycling the mechanic parts of the lifts.
 
(c) & (d)  When preparing the rehousing arrangements for the estate redevelopment programme, the HA will rehouse affected tenants to suitable PRH flats taking into account the preferences and the family size of the affected tenants and the allocation standards approved by the HA's Subsidised Housing Committee.  

     In particular, when processing the rehousing arrangements for PRH tenants affected by the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate, the HA, will take into account the prevailing PRH resources available for allocation, and rehouse tenants to PRH flats nearby or their chosen estates as far as practicable.  When considering the location for rehousing, the affected tenants can choose a PRH flat with rent at an affordable level to cope with their own situation.  The HD will accommodate their choices as far as resources permit.  Tenants with financial difficulties may apply for CSSA or, for those who face short term problems and who meet the eligibility criteria, they may apply to the HA for rent assistance.  Successful applicants may enjoy 25% or 50% rent reduction.

(e)  In accordance with the prevailing PRH redevelopment policy, the HA will offer the eligible commercial tenants who are affected by redevelopment an ex-gratia allowance (EGA) equivalent to 15 months' exclusive rent (excluding rates) to assist them to find alternative premises (including leasing HA's retail premises through participation in the open tender exercises or premises in the private sector) to re-launch their businesses elsewhere or arrange closure of their businesses.  As the notice period of the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate is less than 30 months, a special ex-gratia allowance (SEGA) equivalent to three months' exclusive rent will also be granted to the eligible commercial tenants.

     In addition, eligible commercial tenants can participate in restricted tender exercises for leasing HA's market retail premises and will be offered a three-month rent free period in the new tenancy.  If the eligible commercial tenants opt for not participating in restricted tender exercises, a lump sum payment at $99,000 in lieu of restricted tender opportunities will be offered.
 
     There are nine commercial premises in Shek Kip Mei Estate Phases 2 and 5 Shopping Centre.  Among them, as at end April 2012, eight shops have been let or with letting procedures near completion and the HA will arrange the letting of the remaining one in due course.  Those commercial tenants affected by the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate are welcome to participate in the open tender exercise for leasing the premise concerned. The HD will discuss the redevelopment and other arrangements with the commercial tenants and will try to provide assistance as far as possible within the existing policy.

(f)  When implementing estates redevelopment programme, the HA will consider and formulate the rehousing arrangements in a holistic manner.  The HA has identified, in the vicinity of Pak Tin Estate, the nearby newly completed Shek Kip Mei Estate Phases 2 and 5 to rehouse the tenants of Blocks 1 to 3 and 12 of Pak Tin Estate, so as to better meet tenants' aspiration for local rehousing.  Under the current policy, when proper rehousing arrangements have been made for the PRH tenants affected by the estate clearance, they will not be rehoused back to the redeveloped estate.  However, for PRH tenants who are affected by the later phases of the redevelopment of Pak Tin Estate, the HA may consider rehousing them to the new PRH flats built after redevelopment of the earlier phases, subject to the prevailing circumstances including the allocation resources available.

Ends/Wednesday, May 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:08

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