LCQ18: Development projects in the New Territories
In mid-2012, the Government commenced a planning and engineering study on the public housing development at Wang Chau (Wang Chau development). The project, which involves 17 000 public housing flats, will be carried out in three phases, with the second and third phases involving large areas of brownfield sites. After conducting informal consultations with a few persons from the local communities, the Government announced in mid-2014 that it would carry out phase one plan of Wang Chau development, under which three non-indigenous villages in green belt areas will be cleared for the construction of 4 000 public housing flats. The incident has aroused wide public concern about land development projects in the New Territories, especially their planning procedures. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the details (including the dates of consultation, attendance lists and contents of consultation) of the informal consultations conducted by government departments with any persons or stakeholder groups in respect of the following development projects:
(i) housing development at San Hing Road, Tuen Mun,
(ii) North East New Territories New Development Areas,
(iii) Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area,
(iv) housing sites in Yuen Long South,
(v) housing development at Kam Tin South, and
(vi) Tung Chung New Town Extension;
(2) of the details (including the dates of consultation, attendance lists and contents of consultation) of the informal consultations, conducted by the Lantau Development Advisory Committee or any Government department before the publication of the report entitled "Space for All" by the Committee in January 2016 and the conduct of the three-month public engagement exercise on this, with any persons or stakeholder groups in respect of the proposals on Lantau development;
(3) given that the parties whom the Government has informally consulted on Wang Chau development include a person who is in the multiple capacities of being a member of the District Council concerned, the Chairman of the rural committee concerned and the lessee of the brownfield sites concerned, which has aroused extensive discussions in the community and disputes over conflict of interests, whether Government departments need to comply with any guidelines, practices or requirements when choosing the parties to be consulted informally; if so, of the details;
(4) given that the Secretary for Development indicated in reply to a question raised by a Member of this Council on May 29, 2013 that "[a]s the co-ordination work on planning, development and land supply is now well handled by the Steering Committee on Land Supply and the Committee on Planning and Land Development, we have no plan to set up another inter-departmental committee specifically responsible for land issues in the New Territories", and yet the Government set up a task force for the planning of Wang Chau and Queen's Hill in June 2013 to steer Wang Chau development and the public housing development plan at Queen's Hill, of the discussion process leading to the decision to set up such task force and the list of persons participating in the discussion; and
(5) of the number of inter-departmental ad hoc committees/task forces on land development in the New Territories chaired by the Chief Executive since July 1, 1997, and set out their establishment dates by name of the committees/task forces?
After consulting the Transport and Housing Bureau, our consolidated reply is as follows:
(1) When preparing for development/planning studies and land use reviews, the Government will work out the public consultation arrangements for collecting public views in the light of the individual situation of the project and taking into account factors such as the planning objectives, study area, land uses, scale and implementation programme of the project. Taking into account the circumstances of individual planning study or land use review, public consultation can be carried out in different forms, including public forums, community workshops, briefing sessions, focus group meetings and collection of written submissions. We will also consult representative and consultative bodies at appropriate levels, such as the Legislative Council, District Councils (DCs), Heung Yee Kuk, rural committees, etc.
In general, a planning study on new development area or new town extension involves larger study area and scale, diversified planning uses, longer development programme and larger development items. When launching such study, the Government will first conduct public consultation on their scopes and objectives. Further consultation will be carried out upon formulation of development options. For each large-scale planning/development study, the Government will give due consideration to all the views collected and prepare reports setting out the public views and our responses. Comparatively speaking, a land use review or development of individual site involves a smaller area and scale and the subject is mainly a particular area or site(s) in the district or specific zones or land uses. The planned uses are also relatively limited (e.g. residential use). Therefore, extensive public engagement activities will not be arranged for such project as what have usually carried out for the large scale planning/development studies. Instead, the target of the public consultation will be more focused, including various local consultative bodies as mentioned above.
Regarding the planning studies in question, the studies for the Kwu Tung North and Fanling North New Development Areas (NDAs) (formerly known as the North East New Territories development), the Hung Shui Kiu NDA, the Yuen Long South development, and the Tung Chung New Town Extension are all NDA or new town extension planning studies which involve many complicated problems. Therefore, during the planning and engineering study process, three stages of public consultation were conducted to consult the public respectively on the development direction and objectives, the preliminary development scheme and the recommended development scheme. Upon completion of the consultations, public consultation reports were prepared, incorporating the public views and the Government’s responses. The consultation report is a public record of the entire process which upon its completion, will be uploaded to the webpages of the relevant study for public inspection. The report also serves as the basis for follow-ups in the future.
As for the housing development at Kam Tin South, it is a result of the Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung published in 2014. The Review was a district-based planning project, mainly examining the development potential of the West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station and the Pat Heung Maintenance Centre, as well as the feasibility of using their adjoining land for housing development. The majority of the parties consulted were local stakeholders, including the District Council, rural committees and resident/concern groups. That said, the Planning Department has conducted a comprehensive analysis of the comments received and properly responded to the parties concerned. The findings of the consultation were then relayed to the Yuen Long DC (YLDC) and the Rural and New Town Planning Committee (RNTPC) under the Town Planning Board. Related documents of the YLDC and the RNTPC have been uploaded to their respective webpages for public inspection.
The comments received through the aforementioned studies can be inspected at the following web links:
* Kwu Tung North/Fanling North New Development Areas:
* Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area:
* Yuen Long South Development (Stage 3 Community Engagement Report under preparation):
* Tung Chung New Town Extension:
* Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung:
www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/papers/RNTPC/532-rntpc_6-15.pdf (RNTPC paper – English version only)
www.districtcouncils.gov.hk/yl/doc/2012_2015/en/dc_meetings_doc/611/dc_paper_2015_027.pdf (YLDC paper – Chinese version only)
Regarding the public housing development at San Hing Road in Tuen Mun, according to the Transport and Housing Bureau (THB), it is the Government’s practice to conduct consultation for large-scale projects in accordance with established procedures. Lobbying is also commonly carried out for projects that have impact to the local community with the objective to understand local concerns and gauge feedbacks on the proposals, in order to facilitate the Government to formulate proposals and to better address concerns and suggestions from the public during the public consultation process. Informal lobbying is not intended for substituting formal consultation procedures. Housing Department (HD) located the following reference to the informal lobbying for San Hing Road housing development. The information indicates that prior to the DC meeting on September 2, 2014, HD and relevant department conducted five informal lobbying sessions from May to August that year. Local representatives who attended the meetings included the then Vice-chairman of Tuen Mun DC (TMDC), Chairman of the Environment, Hygiene and District Development Committee of TMDC, Chairman of the Commerce, Industry and Housing Committee of TMDC, DC member of the concerned constituency, the First Vice-chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee and village representatives concerned. Local representatives expressed various concerns on the proposal, including transportation, traffic, impacts on the existing operations in the development area, etc.
Subsequently, the Government consulted TMDC on September 2, 2014. At the meeting, members expressed concerns over transportation, rural industries, demolitions and relocation, compensation issues, etc. The proposal was not supported by the District Council in the end. Members also decided to issue a letter to the Town Planning Board to express their views on San Hing Road public housing development and urge the Housing Department to conduct local consultation within the subsequent two weeks. In this connection, the relevant government departments conducted a site inspection with the DC member of the concerned constituency, the First Vice-chairman of Tuen Mun Rural Committee, village representatives and villagers on September 11, 2014, and attended a local consultation to gather views and concerns from local residents on September 13, 2014. At present, the study on the public housing development at San Hing Road has yet been completed and various issues are subject to change. As such, details of the development proposal, including flat number, are yet to be confirmed.
(2) Before the public engagement exercise titled "Space for All" launched in January 2016, the Development Bureau (DEVB) and relevant departments had not conducted any informal consultation on the details with any persons or stakeholder groups. Nevertheless, after formulation of the strategic positioning and development directions for Lantau in July 2014 by the Lantau Development Advisory Committee (LanDAC), the Public Relation and Engagement Subcommittee of the LanDAC and government departments held 38 briefings to key stakeholders (including 18 DCs and local organisations, etc.) from October 2014 to September 2015 on the development plan for Lantau and solicit their views; and arranged many visits to Lantau for the 18 DCs and the media. The information on the above activities were stated in Paper No. 09/2015 of the Public Relation and Engagement Subcommittee of the LanDAC: www.devb.gov.hk/filemanager/en/content_926/PRE_SC_Paper_No._09_2015_(eng).pdf.
(3) As pointed out by the Secretary for Transport and Housing at the press conference on September 21, 2016, representatives of HD and relevant Government departments lobbied the Chairman of YLDC, DC Member of the concerned constituency, the Chairman and the First Vice-chairman of Ping Shan Rural Committee and the Special Councillor of Heung Yee Kuk representing Ping Shan in July and September 2013 for the Wang Chau public housing development. Subsequently in March 2014, lobbying sessions with the aforesaid persons and DC Members of the nearby affected areas were carried out for Phase 1 of the Wang Chau public housing development.
Public consultation will not be replaced by informal lobbying. According to THB, the Government has in fact conducted public consultations for Phase one of the Wang Chau public housing development through various means. As recorded under public documents, the Government consulted the Ping Shan Rural Committee on the Wang Chau Phase 1 on May 23, 2014 and YLDC on June 24, 2014 and submitted the rezoning proposal to the RNTPC for consideration on October 17, 2014. The rezoning of a portion of land within the "Green Belt" zone at Wang Chau for the development of public housing was gazetted on October 31, 2014, inviting representations and comments from the public. The TPB subsequently considered the received representations and comments on April 10, 2015. The public has many opportunities to express their opinions during the process.
(4) and (5) The Government has put in place the Steering Committee on Land Supply and the Committee on Planning and Land Development, as a standing mechanism, to coordinate works on planning, development and land supply. Land and housing supply is high in the priority list of the current-term Government. Depending on the need, the Chief Executive (CE) will chair inter-departmental meetings to take forward high-level coordination work of large-scale land supply projects. The Task Force on Wang Chau and Queen's Hill Site is one of the examples. The directions given by the CE will be followed up by relevant policy bureaux and departments in accordance with the established mechanism, which includes reporting the work progress and detailed follow-ups to the above-mentioned Committees. The DEVB so far has no separate statistics on the number of the related meetings. We cannot afford to give priority to searching for government records starting from 1997 which would require a large amount of resources, manpower and time. As such, we cannot provide the requested information at this stage.
Regarding Wang Chau in Yuen Long and Queen's Hill in North District, the Government is committed to identifying land for public housing developments. Both Wang Chau and Queen's Hill developments are important projects because of their especially large development sites which may provide almost 30 000 public housing units, the amount of the target of the public housing supply in a year. As such large-scale developments usually involve complicated issues of planning, infrastructure, transport, environmental protection, etc., the CE has personally chaired the task force to make high-level directional decisions for these two developments with a view to taking them forward as soon as possible and thereby solving the housing problem of the grassroots. The task force held its meeting in June 2013 and those in attendance included officials responsible for the policy areas of land, housing, planning and environmental protection.
Ends/Wednesday, November 2, 2016
Issued at HKT 18:43
Issued at HKT 18:43