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LCQ14: 21 Tai Tam Road

     Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 16):


     It has been reported earlier that when processing an application for in-situ land exchange (land exchange) in 2010, the Lands Department additionally granted the government land adjoining the lot in question (including the carriageway, the small slope and the green area) at an excessively low land premium (premium) to the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (LOCPG), and the Buildings Department also offered a substantial gross floor area concession (commonly known as "inflated area").  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the original site area and the planned use of the site at 21 Tai Tam Road purchased by LOCPG in 2007; why the authorities approved the aforesaid application for land exchange and allowed LOCPG to obtain the additional adjoining government land; the total site area of the lot (including the additional government land area involved) after the land exchange; whether there is any change in the planned land use of the new lot; whether the whole site may be used for residential development;

(b) of the plot ratio, the permissible building height and the permissible building area of the lot after the land exchange, as well as the difference between these measurements and those before the land exchange; the amount of premium involved and how it compares with those of the nearby lots at the time of the land exchange; the market price per square foot of the site at 21 Tai Tam Road in 2007 and the market price per square foot of the nearby residential sites in 2010;

(c) of the factors considered by the authorities when they approved the application for in-situ land exchange at 21 Tai Tam Road;

(d) regarding the permissible building area of the lot and the application plan for building construction thereon after the land exchange, of the area exempted by the authorities and the reasons for such exemption; whether premium was involved; if so, of the amount of the premium;

(e) whether any additional condition was imposed by the authorities when they approved the aforesaid land exchange application; whether the aforesaid carriageway, small slope and green area have become private land after the land exchange; which party is responsible for the management and maintenance of such land; whether LOCPG may restrict public use of such carriageway, small slope and green area; whether government land where carriageways, small slopes and green areas are located had been granted by the Government for private ownership in similar cases in the past;

(f) whether any restriction on transfer or use was specified in the land lease for the new lot after the land exchange; and

(g) whether the aforesaid land exchange case was subject to the vetting and approval of the Town Planning Board (TPB) due to a change in the planned land use or other reasons; if so, of the decision made by TPB and whether any additional condition was imposed?



     The site at 21 Tai Tam Road was granted by the Government in 1949.  Subsequently in 1962, the Government granted a small part of the neighbouring Government land to the then owner of the lot.  The total area of the lot amounts to about 1,091.6 square metres.  The use as stipulated in the lease is "private residential", and there was no restrictions on the gross floor area, number of storey, site coverage or alienation.  According to records at the Land Registry, the lot was the subject of a number of transactions before it was acquired by the Liaison Office of the Central People's Government in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region in November 2007 from the market.  Please refer to part (g) of the reply below with regard to the planning application in relation to the lot.

     Subsequently, the lot owner submitted to the Lands Department (LandsD) an "in-situ land exchange" application to include the relevant Government land into the lot for development for the purpose of implementing the planning permission obtained in 1997 and the Class A amendment obtained in 2009 (referred to altogether as "the planning permissions" hereunder).  In July 2010, LandsD applied additional conditions with reference to the content of the planning permissions to the land exchange documents to be granted to the lot owner in accordance with applicable procedures, including the erection of a block of flats for private residential purposes not exceeding seven storeys and two storeys of ancillary carports.  The maximum gross floor area (GFA) of the block shall not exceed 1,803.2 square metres and the site coverage shall not exceed 20%.  The total area of the lot after the land exchange is 1,288 square metres.

     My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(a) and (b) Please refer to my main reply on information before and after the land exchange.

     In assessing the land premium for the subject land exchange, the professional estate surveyors of LandsD had, in accordance with the existing land exchange arrangements, assessed the full market value premium reflecting the difference between the land value of the lot under the lease conditions before the land exchange and that after the land exchange.  As explained above, new conditions were imposed in the lease conditions after the land exchange, so the premium was not assessed solely on the basis of additional gross floor area after the land exchange.

(c) As mentioned in my response to a Member's oral question at the Legislative Council sitting on June 4, 2008, the Government will process applications for "in-situ land exchanges" in order to allow the implementation of the approved plans/schemes within the statutory planning framework whilst upholding the situation of optimisation of the use of land.  Some criteria have to be fulfilled for such applications, including where the Government land involved in "in-situ land exchanges" is incapable of reasonable separate alienation or development; where it has no foreseeable public use for the Government land concerned; and that the applicants are required to pay full market value premium and this results in a financial return to the Government no less favourable than by separate alienation.  The "in-situ land exchange" case of 21 Tai Tam Road was in line with the above criteria.

(d) In processing submissions of building plans, the Buildings Department (BD) will consider applications for exclusion of floor spaces from GFA calculations in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance, Practice Notes for Authorised Persons, Registered Structural Engineers and Registered Geotechnical Engineers and Joint Practice Notes.  In general, the items that may be excluded from GFA calculations mainly comprise carparks, plant rooms, green features and amenity features etc.

     BD had implemented a new GFA concessions policy on April 1, 2011.  The latest set of building plans for the domestic building at 21 Tai Tam Road was approved in 2010 in accordance with the GFA concession policy prevailing at that time.  Details of the GFA concessions are attached at Annex.

     The above-mentioned GFA concessions were approved in accordance with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance and the criteria laid down in the then GFA concessions policy.  For example, in accepting the area of the carports and the associated driveway which amounts to about 67% of the total GFA concessions to be excluded from GFA calculation, BD had made reference to the level of provision of car parking spaces set out in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, the design of the carports as well as the advice of the Commissioner for Transport.

     In addition, the lot owner, according to building plans approved by Buildings Department, applied to LandsD under related lease condition to exempt the green balcony facilities of 25 square metres from gross floor area calculation.  LandsD assessed the premium (about $1.2 million) in accordance with the LandsD Practice Note and approved the Consent Letter.  The relevant LandsD Practice Note could be found in LandsD's website.  The relevant Consent Letter has also been registered in the Land Registry and accessible by public.

(e) The related lease conditions in details contained in the land exchange were registered in the Land Registry.  In general, other than the restrictions as mentioned above, LandsD has, in accordance with Government Departments' comments to the application in the aspects of transportation, greening and slope etc, incorporated the relevant lease conditions to the land exchange.  For example, the lot owner is responsible for a slope at the north west side of the lot, who shall conduct slope works (preventive, compensatory, repair and maintenance, etc.) when required.  In addition, the lot owner is required to construct a road at the south east side of the lot and open the same for public use.  The concerned slope and road which have been indicated in the lease are still Government lands.

(f) Please refer to my main reply with regard to development restrictions applied to the conditions of exchange.

     As mentioned in my main reply, the lot was acquired by the present lot owner from the market, instead of by a direct land grant to the lot owner concerned for a specific use.  There is no restriction before the land exchange with regard to alienation.  Taking into consideration the development under the planning permissions, there is no reason to apply restriction on alienation to the conditions of exchange.

(g) The subject site falls within an area zoned "Residential (Group C)5" on the Tai Tam and Shek O Outline Zoning Plan (OZP). According to the Notes of the OZP, development within the area is subject to a building height (BH) restriction of seven storeys over one storey of carports or the height of the existing building, whichever is the greater.  For development with seven domestic storeys, the maximum plot ratio (PR) and site coverage (SC) are restricted to 1.4 and 20% respectively.  Based on the individual merits of a development or redevelopment proposal, minor relaxation of the PR, SC and BH restrictions stated above may be considered by the Town Planning Board (TPB) on application under section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance.

     A planning application for minor relaxation of the BH restriction  was approved by the Metro Planning Committee of the TPB in December 1997 (i.e. seven domestic storeys resting on one level of carports, one level of ramp and one level of plant rooms cum entrance lobby), subject to the following conditions:

(i) the submission and implementation of landscaping proposals to the satisfaction of the Director of Planning or of the TPB.   The relevant submission was made in September 2011;

(ii) the permission should cease to have effect in December 2000 unless prior to the said date either the permitted development was commenced or this permission was renewed.   The relevant building plans for the development were approved by the Building Authority in 1998.  According to the TPB Guidelines No. 35B, the proposed development is considered as commenced and the planning permission is still valid.

     In December 2009, the Planning Department received a set of building plans circulated by BD in respect of a development scheme for seven domestic storeys resting on one level of carports and one level of ramp cum entrance lobby, with a PR and SC of 1.4 and 20% respectively.  This development proposal was generally in line with the approved scheme, except with some Class A amendments to the approved scheme which do not require separate approval from the TPB.  The set of building plans were approved by the Building Authority in January 2010.

Ends/Wednesday, May 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 18:50


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