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LCQ17: Planning and development of lands in the New Territories
     Following is a question by the Hon Chu Hoi-dick and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 9):

     In connection with the planning and development of lands in the New Territories, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) in respect of Kam Tin South housing development,
(i) given that the authorities completed the Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung in April 2014, and the Chief Executive in Council approved the draft Kam Tin South Outline Zoning Plan in September 2016, of the reasons and the basis for the authorities not having conducted any public consultation on the project so far; the details of the procedures and guidelines to be followed by the authorities on conducting public consultations for the planning of new towns and major development projects, and set out the names of those projects for which public consultations were conducted in the past three years in accordance with the relevant guidelines; and
(ii) whether the authorities are going to adopt the Conventional New Town Approach (CNTA) (i.e. using public money to resume lands for development of the areas concerned) for implementing the project; if so, of the details; if not, whether the development under the project is required to observe the restrictions on rural residential density prescribed in paragraph 3.4.2 in Chapter 2 of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (i.e. Zone 1 relates to a medium rise residential block with up to 12 floors including at most two commercial lower floors. It is the highest density appropriate to non-urban areas ... (Maximum plot ratio 3.6)); and
(2) in respect of the planning of North East New Territories New Development Areas, given that the then Secretary for Development said in June 2012 that the authorities had decided to adopt CNTA, instead of the Public-Private-Partnership Approach (PPPA), for implementing the project, and in September of the same year, the incumbent Secretary for Development indicated that consideration would be given to adopting PPPA for the project, and in July 2013, the authorities announced the adoption of an Enhanced Conventional New Town Approach (ECNTA) for the project:
(i) of the new towns which were developed under CNTA, PPPA and ECNTA respectively, and the respective site areas of such new towns;

(ii) of the entire decision-making process leading to a change in the development approach for the project (setting out the dates of all relevant meetings, participants of such meetings, the relevant justifications, as well as the specific dates on which the various decisions were made);

(iii) of the respective projected revenues from land sales and land premiums for implementing the project using the aforesaid three development approaches; and

(iv) of the respective major views opposing and supporting the adoption of PPPA/ECNTA for the project which were received by the authorities at different stages of consultations (including informal consultations, public consultations as well as different forms of public engagement activities conducted by the Town Planning Board), and set out the information by category of such views?

     The question mainly covers two projects, namely the housing development at Kam Tin South and the Kwu Tung North /Fanling North (KTN/FLN) New Development Areas (NDAs). Our reply is as follows:
(1)(i) As explained in the Government's reply to the Council's question No. 18 on November 2, 2016, when preparing for development/planning studies and land use reviews, the Government will work out appropriate 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, etc. Depending upon 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 (RCs), etc.

     Regarding the housing development at Kam Tin South in question, it refers to the Land Use Review for Kam Tin South and Pat Heung (Land Use Review) completed in 2014. The Land Use Review was a district-based land use review and planning project, mainly examining the development potential of the West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station and Pat Heung Maintenance Centre, as well as the possibility of using their adjoining land for housing development. As indicated in the reply to the Council's question mentioned above, as the Land Use Review is different from large scale land development projects in terms of planned uses and scale, the consultations arranged by the Government for the Land Use Review mainly covered local stakeholders, including DC, RCs and resident/concern groups.

     For the Land Use Review, the Planning Department (PlanD) 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 (TPB). Related documents of the YLDC and the RNTPC have been uploaded to their respective web pages for public inspection.

RNTPC paper:
www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/papers/RNTPC/532-rntpc_6-15.pdf (English version only)
YLDC paper:
www.districtcouncils.gov.hk/yl/doc/2012_2015/tc/dc_meetings_doc/611/dc_paper_2015_027.pdf (Chinese version only)

     Regarding the Kam Tin South Outline Zoning Plan (the OZP) mentioned in the question, the PlanD proposed in 2015 amendments to the OZP to facilitate the residential developments at the West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station and Pat Heung Maintenance Centre which were taken forward based on the Land Use Review completed by the PlanD in 2014. In accordance with the established procedures, the PlanD consulted Kam Tin RC, Pat Heung RC and YLDC on the OZP amendments in April 2015 before submission of the amendments to the RNTPC in May 2015. The amended OZP was gazetted on May 29, 2015 for the public to make representations and comments. The TPB received a total of 55 representations and 330 comments, and arranged the representers and commenters to attend the relevant hearings. Having considered the representations and comments, the TPB decided not to amend the OZP to meet the representations and comments and submitted the OZP, together with the representations and comments, to the Chief Executive-in-Council (CE-in-C). In August 2016, the CE-in-C approved the amended OZP.
(1)(ii) As indicated above, the Land Use Review was primarily a district-based land use review and planning project, rather than a planning and engineering study for NDA or new town extension.  The Land Use Review recommended that the West Rail Kam Sheung Road Station, the Pat Heung Maintenance Centre and the adjoining sites (the five proposed public housing sites) should have a maximum plot ratio of 3 and the development density in areas away from the railway station should gradually decrease (with maximum plot ratios from 2.1 to 0.8) in order to maintain compatibility with their rural surroundings. The recommendations were made with reference to the maximum domestic plot ratios for commercial centres of rural townships laid down in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, taking into account the concept of sustainable development with railway as the base and the relevant district planning factors.

     The residential development of the above two West Rail sites will be implemented by the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC) and the MTR Corporation serving as KCRC's agent based on the model of the West Rail property development. In accordance with the recommendations of the Land Use Review, the Government is undertaking a detailed engineering feasibility study for three public housing sites at Kam Tin South. The public housing developments will be implemented through resumption of private land. For the remaining sites identified by the Land Use Review, there is no implementation plan as according to the Review, the provision of sufficient supporting infrastructures is yet to be confirmed.
(2) The North East New Territories New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study, commenced in 2008, was completed in 2013. During the course of the study, three stages of public engagement were conducted to solicit public views on respectively the visions and aspirations for the NDAs, the Preliminary Outline Development Plans and the Recommended Outline Development Plans. During the three stages of engagement, different public views were received on the implementation arrangements and development approach. The Government has prepared consultation reports incorporating the public views as well as its responses in the three stages of engagement, including the views received on the implementation arrangements and development approach of the NDAs. The consultation reports are public record of the entire process and they have been uploaded to the web page of the relevant study for public inspection (www.nentnda.gov.hk/eng/public_1.html; www.nentnda.gov.hk/eng/public_2.html; and www.nentnda.gov.hk/eng/public_3.html).

     Specifically, after considering the fact that more than half of the developable land in the North East New Territories (NENT) NDAs are privately owned, the Government has in Stages 1 and 2 public engagement invited public views on the implementation arrangements and development approach. The consultations have suggested studying other possible implementation approach including the private sector participation other than CNTA (i.e. the Government will resume and clear the land, carry out site formation works and provide infrastructures before allocating land for various purposes). At the start of the Stage 3 public consultation, the Government indicated that consideration would continue to be given to the adoption of CNTA as the implementation approach. However, the society had different views on the suggestion. Some public comments expressed views against the CNTA and urged the Government to allow land exchange. Some public comments welcomed the implementation of the NDA project through land resumption. For example, when the Government consulted the LegCo Development Panel on the Stage 3 public engagement on June 28, 2012, individual LegCo members indicated support to the CNTA, but some members also concerned about the exclusion of the PPPA or private sector participation. Some members expressed that there was a need to achieve a balance between individual's property right and public interest, but some members considered that CNTA was at the expense of private land owners' interests, thereby recommending the Government to consider inviting land owners to implement part of the NDAs projects. Some members were even against compulsory resumption of private land, which would deprive land owners of rights in pursuing their own development for the land.

     In July 2013, after considering the views received in the three stages of public engagement, the Government announced the revised proposals for the NENT NDAs, which recommended that the two NDAs at KTN/FLN should be developed first as an extension to the Fanling/Sheung Shui New Town to form the Fanling/Sheung Shui/Kwu Tung New Town. Taking into account public views received in the Stage 3 Public Engagement, the Government decided to adopt the ECNTA approach. The Government will take the lead and resume land for various developments in accordance with the plans when implementing the two new town extension projects. At the same time, flexibility will be provided for modification of lease including in-situ land exchange applications by owners of land planned for private development meeting a set of stricter criteria. A detailed account of the relevant decisions was given in the discussion paper submitted to the meeting of the Legislative Council Panel on Development on July 15, 2013. 

     It is worth noting that the ECNTA is not PPPA. Under the ECNTA, the Government would still take the lead in implementing the NDAs by resuming and clearing the private land planned for public works projects, public housing and private developments, carrying out site formation works, and providing infrastructure before allocating such land for various purposes, including disposal of the land planned for private developments in the market. However, on the condition that the specified criteria are met, the Government will exercise stricter requirements in allowing applications for modification of lease (including in-situ land exchange). This approach was indeed the same as the one adopted for developments of new towns (such as Shatin, Fanling/Sheung Shui and Tseung Kwan O New Town) in the past when the Government undertook most of the work of private land resumption, while allowing at the same time private land owners to apply for modification of lease (including in-situ land exchange) for private developments. The purpose of setting stricter requirements (therefore the name "enhanced") is to ensure compliance with the NDAs planning and their development schedules, help advancing housing land supply and production without compromising comprehensive planning, certainty and timely provision of supporting government, institution or community facilities, while safeguarding fair treatment to existing occupants on the private land concerned. These criteria include mainly the following four points:
(a) Lease modification applications (including in-situ land exchange) are confined to sites planned for private development; other private land will be resumed by the Government for development.

(b) Such applications must meet specified criteria and conditions, including that the proposed site should have an area of not less than 4,000 square metres and all the lots contained therein should be under a unified ownership to ensure planning integrity and comprehensive development.

(c) The private development must be able to ensure timely supply of housing and other facilities. For applications of which the development cannot be completed within the specified time period, the private land involved will be resumed by the Government for development.
(d) Landowners in the proposed lease modification applications should be fair to the tenants/occupants by, inter alia, offering them monetary compensation comparable to that offered by the Government.

     The CNTA has primarily been used in the implementation of our existing new towns in the past. Up till now, only the implementation of the KTN/FLN NDAs has adopted ECNTA. We have no statistics on the land areas of new towns implemented under different approaches. Since the ultimate location and number of successful in-situ land exchanges in KTN/FLN NDAs cannot be ascertained, the Government is unable to make a comparison on the differences in the land sale and land premium under different implementation approaches.
Ends/Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:18
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