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LCQ9: Private recreational leases

     Following is a question by the Hon Gary Fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):


     The Government has leased certain lands at nil or nominal premium to private sports clubs (clubs) to develop sports and recreational facilities for use by their members, and such leases for sports and recreational purposes are commonly known as private recreational leases (PRLs).  I have repeatedly received complaints from members of the public that some lessees used club facilities for profit-making purposes, thus allegedly breaching the conditions of PRLs.  On the other hand, the Home Affairs Bureau set up an inter-departmental working group in June 2014 to review the policy on PRLs.  It is expected that the working group will complete the review in this year.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the information of the lands that are currently granted under PRLs, including (i) the names of lessees, (ii) the addresses of the clubs, (iii) the uses specified in the PRLs, (iv) the site areas, and (v) the expiry dates of the PRLs;

(2) of the respective numbers of the following, in each of the past five years, (i) the complaints received by the authorities about lessees allegedly breaching the restrictions on uses specified in PRLs (lease-breaching) by conducting commercial activities or subletting club facilities, (ii) the suspected lease-breaching cases uncovered by the authorities during proactive inspections of these clubs, and (iii) substantiated lease-breaching cases;

(3) of the details of and the procedure for the authorities' following up substantiated lease-breaching cases; whether the existing PRLs generally contain any provision empowering the Government to penalise lease-breaching lessees, such as charging land premiums and resuming the land; and

(4) whether it has assessed if the aforesaid working group can complete the review on schedule, and whether the authorities will consult the public on the recommendations of the review report?



     The practice of leasing lands to non-profit-making bodies by the Government under private recreational leases (PRLs) at nil or nominal premium for the development of sports and recreational facilities and relevant services has a long history.  Currently, there are a total of 69 PRLs, of which the lessees include private sports clubs, uniformed groups, social and welfare organisations, "national sports associations", district sports associations and civil service organisations.

     In order to encourage the lessees to better serve the Government's key policy objectives for sports development (namely promoting sport in the community, promoting elite sports development, and promoting Hong Kong as a centre for international sports events), we have required the lessees to further open up their sports facilities on PRL sites to outside bodies (including schools, non-governmental organisations, "national sports associations" and uniformed groups).  At present, we monitor the usage of sports facilities on PRL sites through quarterly returns from the lessees and annual site inspections.  We have also enhanced publicity by such means as providing detailed information about the opening-up schemes of sports facilities on PRL sites on the website of the Home Affairs Bureau, and placing advertisements in the newspapers at least once a year to publicise the availability of sports facilities on these sites for use by outside bodies.

     Having consolidated the inputs from the Lands Department (LandsD), my reply to the four parts of the question is as follows:

(1) Information on lands granted under PRLs, including names of the lessees, their addresses, site areas and expiry dates of PRLs, is at Annex.  As for specified uses, PRLs contain lease conditions requiring that PRL sites shall only be used for approved recreational and designated purposes and not for other purposes (such as commercial activities or subletting).  Members of the public may search such information of PRLs through the Land Registry.

(2) In the past five years, the LandsD identified 51 cases of alleged breaches of user restriction (involving 28 PRLs) when handling complaints or via proactive inspections.  As at May 2016, 12 cases were confirmed upon investigation as not having breached the lease conditions, 26 cases involved breaches already rectified by the lessees, two cases involved breaches being rectified by the lessees and one case involved a PRL not renewed, with the remaining 10 cases under investigation.

(3) Land leases are private leases signed between the Government and the landowners, under which the landowners are required to ensure that their lands are used in compliance with related lease conditions.  During investigation, the LandsD will, as necessary, seek legal advice and/or consult relevant bureaux.  If any breach of the lease conditions is confirmed, the LandsD will take appropriate lease enforcement actions, including issuance of a warning letter to the landowner concerned to require rectification of the breach.  Failure of rectification within a specified period will result in further lease enforcement actions, including re-entry of the land concerned where appropriate, taken by the LandsD as necessary.

(4) The Government's inter-departmental working group, comprising representatives from the Development Bureau, the LandsD and other relevant bureaux and departments, is conducting a comprehensive policy review on PRLs.  Based on the current progress, we expect to complete the review in 2016.  We will brief the Legislative Council Panel on Home Affairs thereafter and conduct consultation with the public and stakeholders on the findings of the review.

Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 13:29


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