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2016 Policy Address by Chief Executive (5)

Commercial and Economic Land Uses

117. Aside from land for housing, the Government will also increase the land supply for economic use.  All new development plans will take into account people's housing and employment needs in tandem.  The projects regarding Kwu Tung North and Fanling North NDAs, Tung Chung New Town Extension, Hung Shui Kiu NDA and Yuen Long South Development are progressing as scheduled.  They will provide over 7.8 million square metres of floor area for commercial or industrial uses and nearly 240 000 employment opportunities in various sectors.  

118. The Government will continue to put up commercial sites for sale next year, and gradually rezone suitable Government, Institution or Community sites in core business districts, including the multiple-storey carpark at Murray Road in Central.  In the short and medium term, Queensway Plaza will be redeveloped and the government site at Caroline Hill Road will be rezoned for commercial development.  On the other hand, since the implementation of the industrial building revitalisation measures in 2010, the Lands Department has approved 68 applications for wholesale conversion and eight for redevelopment, and signed the related land documents.  This will provide a total of about 1.06 million square metres of floor area for commercial and other non-industrial uses.  The policy has achieved the intended effect of maximising the use of industrial buildings.  As the vacancy rate of industrial buildings has dropped steadily to a low level over the past few years, the policy will cease at the end of March this year as scheduled.  

Kowloon East

119. As a new business district, Kowloon East has great development potential and can supply an additional commercial or office floor area of about 5 million square metres.  The commercial floor area that can be provided by the two action areas in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay will increase from 500 000 or so square metres to about 560 000 square metres.  Two pieces of government land in the Kowloon Bay Action Area, sold last year, will provide over 120 000 square metres of commercial floor area.  The Government is considering the relocation of the existing government facilities in the Kowloon Bay Action Area and will commence a study on the Kwun Tong Action Area shortly.  Development of the Kowloon Bay Action Area will include projects for commercial and office uses.  The development plan will adopt the concepts of sustainable development and "smart city" in respect of information dissemination, traffic management, architectural design and facility management, refuse collection and treatment, as well as greening.  

120. The Government will implement new policies for Kowloon East, including a pilot scheme of waiving the land premium for lease modification to encourage landowners to construct footbridges or subways at their own cost in accordance with the planned pedestrian network, with a view to providing a safe, comfortable and convenient network which separates pedestrians from vehicles.  This will help turn Kowloon East into a quality business district.

Kai Tak Development Area

121. The infrastructure project at the north apron east in the Kai Tak Development Area was completed last year.  Major projects underway include the infrastructure for the south apron and the "hotel belt" at the former runway.  Residential and commercial sites in the area will be made available for sale later this year.  After completing advance works for water quality improvement at Kai Tak Approach Channel and Kwun Tong Typhoon Shelter, the water quality there has improved.  The next stage of works will further improve the water quality.

122. The Government is undertaking planning and engineering studies for the Kai Tak Fantasy project and planning a tourism node development.  We will endeavour to facilitate hosting of more mega events and activities, and provide basic facilities that meet the requirements of a water-friendly culture as soon as possible.

Long-term Town Planning

"Hong Kong 2030+"

123. Hong Kong faces a serious housing problem, which needs to be urgently addressed so as to improve the living quality.  We must have the commitment and courage to pursue the vision for a better living environment for our young people and the next generation.  We must plan early for our future development strategy and identify sites with potential for long-term development.  

124. "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030" ("Hong Kong 2030+"), officially launched last year, aims to formulate a sound and flexible territory-wide long-term strategy for planning beyond 2030.  

125. The Government will listen to the views of different sectors on "Hong Kong 2030+" and adopt a proactive, pragmatic and action-oriented approach to draw up a blueprint for the future sustainable development of Hong Kong.

Development of Agricultural Land and Brownfield Sites in the New Territories

126. In developing the New Territories, acquiring agricultural land is inevitable.  There are around 4 000 hectares of agricultural land in Hong Kong, of which about 15% is actively farmed while the rest is mostly fallow.  The Government proactively supports the development of local agriculture and will explore ways to optimise use of quality agricultural land through planning and land management.  Through consolidation, sites no longer suitable for agricultural purposes can be released for other uses, thereby improving the rural environment.

127. Some brownfield sites in the New Territories have development potential.  Most, however, are currently used for various operations and it is not possible to put a stop to these operations all at once.  The Government is stepping up efforts to explore ways to accommodate brownfield operations that are necessary and will earnestly study the possibility of moving some of these operations into multi-storey buildings.  The proposal will improve the environment of rural New Territories and release land for development.  The Government has set aside 24 hectares of land in Hung Shui Kiu NDA for such uses, and is working to identify suitable land in adjoining areas for use as a pilot site to consolidate different types of operations.

Construction Industry

Public Works Projects

128. Construction costs have been escalating in recent years.  Several major projects have experienced significant cost overruns.  There is a need for the Government to strengthen cost control.  

129. The Government will soon roll out new measures in relation to public works projects to reduce unnecessary design and contractual requirements under a "no frills" principle.  Such measures, including a holistic review of relevant guidelines, will embrace innovative design concepts and approaches without compromising technical and safety standards.  The Government will put in place an indicative cost system for public works projects.  Except for special circumstances and projects that have entered the design stage, the unit cost of all new government building projects must be lower than the benchmarks.  In addition, the works departments will enhance the standardisation of project design, promote mechanisation and construction by prefabrication, and adopt the guiding principle of "design for buildability" so as to reduce costs without undermining safety.  Procurement and tendering of projects will be refined with the aim of lowering the risk premium included in the tender price and reducing the overall project cost.  The Secretary for Development will establish and lead a dedicated office to take forward the relevant work.

130. The Government will make reference to overseas practices and bring in contractors and consultancies from overseas, with a view to expanding the overall capability and capacity of the local construction sector to undertake projects.  This will help contain cost escalation caused by insufficient capability and capacity.

Enhancing Technical Support for Building Repair and Maintenance

131. The Government is very concerned about the problem of bid-rigging in certain building repair and maintenance works, and will tackle the problem by adopting a variety of measures, including enforcement action, support to building owners and publicity and public educational activities.  In this regard, the Government is discussing with the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) the implementation of a pilot scheme by the URA to enhance technical support for owners, which includes providing guidelines and contract samples, arranging professionals to provide independent advice, establishing a tendering platform, etc..  Such support measures will help reduce the risk of bid-rigging.

Manpower Resources

132. Established to strengthen recruitment of local construction workers, the Construction Industry Recruitment Centre of the Labour Department came into operation this month.

133. The Government will, in collaboration with the Construction Industry Council (CIC), provide workers with a clear career ladder, boost skill and professional development, and attract new entrants to the industry.

134. The construction industry will implement the requirements of "designated workers for designated trades" under the relevant legislation in April next year.  Together with the industry, the Government will promote tests and registration for skilled workers.

Expediting the Processing of Applications for Labour Importation in Construction Industry

135. According to a CIC forecast, there will be a shortage of about 10 000 to 15 000 skilled workers in the construction industry for the coming few years.  While we will strive to provide training and attract local workers to join the industry, there is still a genuine need to import workers to cater for our development needs, on the premise of according priority to local workers in employment and safeguarding their wage levels.

136. The Government will review the effectiveness of the enhancement measures under the Supplementary Labour Scheme to ensure the sustainable development of the construction industry.


137. A number of major transport infrastructure projects will be completed in succession.  The Kwun Tong Line Extension and the South Island Line (East) are expected to be commissioned within this year.  For the Shatin to Central Link, the sections up to Hung Hom and Admiralty are expected to be commissioned in three and five years respectively.  Upon completion of these projects, our heavy rail will have a total route length of more than 270 kilometres and cover areas housing over 70% of Hong Kong's population.  The commissioning of the Hong Kong section of the Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Hong Kong Express Rail Link in 2018 will bring significant transport, economic and social benefits to Hong Kong.  As for road infrastructure, the local project of the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, the Tuen Mun-Chek Lap Kok Link, the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, the Island Eastern Corridor Link and the widening of Tolo Highway and Fanling Highway will be commissioned in succession within four years.  These infrastructure projects will help enhance our internal and external transport links and alleviate road traffic congestion.

138. Strategic highways and related roads in the pipeline include the Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin Tunnel and the Central Kowloon Route.  The Government will also conduct strategic studies on railways and major roads beyond 2030.

139. The Government has long adopted a public transport-oriented policy with railway as the backbone.  The Public Transport Strategy Study, expected to be completed in two and a half years, commenced in phases at the end of 2014.  The study aims to examine the functions of public transport services other than railway, and priority will be accorded to reviewing taxi and public light bus services.  Key areas of study include the feasibility of introducing premium taxis and increasing the seating capacity of public light buses.  We will also improve the assessment criteria for issuing hire car permits and the relevant regulatory system.

140. In recent years, the Government has been pursuing bus route rationalisation vigorously through means such as reviewing and re-organising bus services in a number of districts holistically under an Area Approach and setting up more interchanges to enhance efficiency.  These efforts have yielded positive results and will continue.  The Government will also continue to promote a pedestrian-friendly environment and foster a bicycle-friendly environment in new towns and NDAs.

141. The Government has earmarked over $80 million to provide franchised bus companies with a subsidy to install seats at over 1 000 bus stops and real-time bus arrival information display panels for the convenience of waiting passengers.

(To be continued)

Ends/Wednesday, January 13, 2016
Issued at HKT 12:15


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