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LCQ17: Sites in Hong Kong available for development
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     Following is a question by the Dr Hon Lam Tai-fai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 16):

Question:

     While the Chief Executive (CE) has indicated that tackling the housing problem is a top priority of the current-term Government, quite a number of the members of the public have relayed to me that the community has diverse views on whether the sites where country parks, golf courses and industrial buildings are situated as well as the former site of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) in Kowloon Tong can be used for housing development, and has queried the sources of land.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  whether it has examined the latest situation of sites in Hong Kong available for development, and the floor areas of different types of residential units that can be built on the relevant sites; if it has, of the details, together with a breakdown set out in the table (Table) below; if not, the reasons for that;

(b)  of the number of sites of government industrial buildings in Hong Kong that can be converted for residential housing development, together with details on their locations and areas;

(c)  as it is learnt that a total of about 25 000 submissions were received by the Town Planning Board during the consultation for the rezoning of the former campus of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) in Kowloon Tong, with over 99 per cent of the submissions against the rezoning of the site to residential use, whether the authorities will stick to the proposed planned use of the site; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
 
(d)  given that CE stated in the 2013 Policy Address that the Government has secured land for the development of about 75 000 new public rental housing (PRH) flats within the five years starting from 2012-2013 and about 17 000 new Home Ownership Scheme (HOS) flats within the four years starting from 2016-2017, whether the authorities have set out respectively the annual supply of PRH and HOS flats, distribution of the flats in various districts as well as the respective numbers of persons to be benefited during the two aforesaid periods; if so, of the details set out in a table; if not, the reasons for that;

(e)  whether it will consider relaxing the number of storeys and the area of each floor of New Territories Small Houses for better utilisation of land resources; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(f)  as the results of a survey commissioned by the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee have estimated that there are at present 66 900 sub-divided units (SDUs) in the territory, but SDUs in industrial buildings have been excluded, whether the authorities have compiled statistics on the number of SDUs in industrial buildings to assess the demand on land for housing; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(g)  given that quite a number of members of the public have proposed to re-designate parts of country parks and the Hong Kong Golf Club in Fanling for housing development purpose, whether the authorities have embarked on any relevant assessment; if they have, of the time when they embarked on the assessment, as well as the estimated date of completion and the details of the assessment; if they have not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

     In order to meet the housing and various needs of Hong Kong people, the Government is determined to increasing land supply and has been monitoring closely the utilisation of various types of land.  For land with potential for development, the Government will review and assess its development feasibility according to the established mechanism and on the basis of the blueprint for increasing land supply as mapped out in the 2013 Policy Address.  When a plot of land is ready for development, we will make appropriate arrangements, such as allocating it for public housing development, including it in the Land Sale Programme, or allocating it for other uses.

     After consultation with the Transport and Housing Bureau, my reply to the question raised by Dr Hon Lam is as follows:

 (a)  The areas of country parks and special areas, as well as land zoned "Agriculture" and "Village Type Development" on the statutory plans across the territory, are set out as follows:


Land Types                 Approximate Area
                          (sq. kilometres)
Country parks
and special areas         @@@ 442

Land zoned
"Agriculture" on
statutory plans #                 33

Land zoned
"Village Type
Development"
on statutory plans #              33

#  These figures solely refer to areas of land incorporated into statutory plans and zoned "Agriculture" or "Village Type Development" under the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131).  Hence, the areas zoned "Agriculture" and "Village Type Development" are not equivalent to the land areas being used for agricultural activities and "Village Type Development" uses.

     The land areas of the Fanling Golf Course and the Chief Executive's (CE's) Fanling Lodge are about 170 and 2.3 hectares (ha) respectively.  For the former Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine, Anderson Road Quarry and former Lamma Quarry proposed for developments, the land areas which could be made available for developments in these three quarries are about 5, 40 and 20 ha respectively according to the latest study findings.

     The Government does not have territorial-wide statistics on the areas of "brownfield sites".  Nevertheless, we have been taking forward a series of different planning studies to review the under-utilised "brownfield sites" across the New Territories, so as to rezone suitable sites to other uses to release their development potential, taking into account the feasibility in environmental, transport and infrastructural terms.  The relevant studies include the North East New Territories (NENT) New Development Areas (NDAs) Planning and Engineering Study and the Hung Shui Kiu NDA Planning and Engineering Study (involving about 250 ha of land which is currently used for open storage or port back-up purposes), the Planning and Engineering Study for Housing Sites in Yuen Long South (involving about 93 ha of land which is currently used as open storage, warehouses and workshops), the Engineering Feasibility Study for Kong Nga Po, as well as the Planning and Engineering Study for Kwu Tung South, etc.

(b)  The average letting rate of the six factory estates(Note*) under the management of the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) reaches 99 per cent.  This shows the continuous market demand for small-sized factory units.  HA will continue to manage these factory estates and review the situation from time to time.  At present, there is no clearance plan for these factory estates.

     For industrial land, the Planning Department (PlanD) has conducted three rounds of review since 2000.  In the last round of industrial land review conducted in 2009, about 30 ha of land on 16 industrial sites (five government sites and 11 privately owned sites) were recommended for rezoning to residential use.  Among them, 13 sites have completed or are undergoing the statutory rezoning process.  Some 20 400 housing units can be provided upon development or redevelopment of all the 16 sites.  In order to understand the latest utilisation of the existing industrial land and buildings, and to further examine the possibility of converting some of the sites to other uses, including residential use, PlanD also started another round of review in end March 2013, which is expected to be completed in 2014.

(c)  With the reprovisioning of the Lee Wai Lee campus of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education in Tseung Kwan O, the Education Bureau (EDB) has assessed if the former Lee Wai Lee campus site in Kowloon Tong should continue to be used for education purpose.  After consideration, EDB has decided that the northern portion of the former Lee Wai Lee campus site should be reserved to meet the outstanding requirements of the Hong Kong Baptist University for publicly-funded academic space and student hostels under the prevailing policies and established calculation formula.  

     As for the southern portion of the former Lee Wai Lee campus site, EDB surrendered it to the Government for alternative uses to ensure optimal use of scarce land resources.  Regarding the zoning amendment of the said site from "Government, Institution or Community (9)" to "Residential (Group B)", the Town Planning Board will hold a meeting in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131) to consider the representations and comments received.

(d)  According to the latest Public Housing Construction Programme, the production of public rental housing for the period 2012/13 to 2016/17 is estimated to be about 79 000 flats, some 4 000 flats more than the target of 75 000 flats as set out in the 2013 Policy Address.  These flats are anticipated to accommodate a population of around 210 000.  The distribution of flats by districts is at Annex A.  As regards the Home Ownership Scheme (HOS), HA has successfully worked with other bureaux and government departments to identify suitable land to produce a total of about 17 000 HOS flats from 2016/17 to 2019/20.

     Construction works for the first batch of about 2 200 HOS flats scheduled for completion in 2016/17 has commenced.  The HOS production by districts for the period 2016/17 to 2017/18 is at Annex B.  The flats are expected to accommodate a population of around 27 000.  Since the projects in 2018/19 and beyond are still subject to changes arising from various factors such as change of land use and views from the local communities, etc., it is not possible to list out the detailed programme at this stage.  Such information will be released when we roll forward the production programme year-by-year and consult the respective District Councils in due course.

(e)  Currently, small houses must be constructed in accordance with the relevant provisions of the Buildings Ordinance (Application to the New Territories) Ordinance (Cap 121).  The main features are that the building shall neither be of more than three storeys nor exceed a height of 8.23 metres, and the maximum roofed-over area of the house shall not exceed 65.03 square metres.  The fact that small houses are currently exempted from certain controls under the Buildings Ordinance is based on the height and area, etc. of small houses.  The building safety aspect will become a concern if the existing restrictions on small houses with regard to their number of storeys, height and roofed-over area are relaxed.  Moreover, a range of factors have to be taken into account when PlanD draws up the "Village Type Development" zone, including the location of individual villages, compatibility with the surrounding land uses, urban design, environmental and topographical constraints, as well as the provision of infrastructure, etc.  Relaxation of the height restrictions on small house developments will result in an increase in the number of residents in the areas concerned, and its feasibility must therefore be carefully considered.

(f)  The Survey on Subdivided Units (SDUs) in Hong Kong commissioned by the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee and conducted by Policy 21 Limited only covers subdivided units in private domestic/composite buildings.  We do not have estimated number of SDUs in industrial buildings for the time being.

(g)  There were opinions suggesting that the Government should explore the possibility of developing the Fanling Golf Course and its peripheral areas during the Stage 3 Public Engagement exercise for NENT NDAs last year.  In view of this, the Government will incorporate the relevant land (including CE's Fanling Lodge) into the "Preliminary Feasibility Study on Developing the New Territories North" to be commenced in early 2014 to explore the various development options of the land concerned.  PlanD and the Civil Engineering and Development Department are carrying out tender procedures for the said study.  It is estimated that the study will take about 15 months, including the relevant broad technical assessments on environment, traffic and transport, drainage and sewerage, etc., as well as public engagement activities.

     The Fanling Golf Course has a role to play both in the context of Hong Kong's sports development policy and the planning and environment of the peripheral areas.  The Home Affairs Bureau will commence an overall review on the Private Recreational Lease policy this year.  The Development Bureau will take into account the relevant review findings when considering the future development potential of the Fanling Golf Course.

     The Government currently has no plan to develop country parks for housing purpose.

Note*: Chun Shing, Sui Fai, Hoi Tai, Wang Cheong, Kwai On and Yip On Factory Estates.

Ends/Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Issued at HKT 15:26

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