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LCQ 16: Public housing development at San Hing Road
     Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Wan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung, in the Legislative Council today (16 November):
     At its meeting on September 2, 2014, the Tuen Mun District Council (TMDC) discussed the Comprehensive Development for Public Housing, Educational and Social Welfare Facilities etc. at San Hing Road, Tuen Mun submitted by the Housing Department (HD), which comprised the public housing development at San Hing Road (the San Hing Road project).  The San Hing Road project included the construction of 11 residential blocks which would provide 8 000 public housing flats for accommodating 24 500 residents.  At that time, two private developers had applied to the Town Planning Board (TPB) for carrying out private housing development within the site of the San Hing Road project.  The Chairman of TMDC concluded at the meeting that TMDC resolved to write to TPB to express its views on the San Hing Road project.  He also urged HD to conduct district consultation within two weeks.  On September 29 this year, the Government indicated that the San Hing Road project "was not supported by the District Council" at that meeting, and since then it had been studying ways to adjust the project, but it had to take into account the fact that the planning applications for the two aforesaid private housing development projects were approved by TPB in October 2014 and March 2015.  The Government also indicated that it planned to construct about 1 700 public housing flats within the site of the original proposal.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
  1. given that some members of TMDC (DC members) have pointed out to me that since the aforesaid meeting, the Government has neither consulted TMDC again on the San Hing Road project, nor reported on the progress of the project to TMDC, of the basis for the Government's statement that the project "was not supported by the District Council";
  2. given that at the aforesaid meeting, some DC members had requested the Government to suspend the processing of the planning applications for the San Hing Road project and for the two aforesaid private housing development projects, and to conduct district consultation again on the San Hing Road project, of the reasons why the planning applications for the two private housing development projects were eventually approved by TPB; and
  3. why the authorities have reduced the number of public housing flats to be constructed within the site of the original proposal of the San Hing Road project to only about 1 700?
     The Government has spared no efforts in addressing the housing problem.  The ultimate solution to solve the problem is to increase the supply of land and housing in a continuous manner and there is no other short-cut.  The Government's housing supply target for the coming ten-year period (i.e. from 2016-17 to 2025-26) is 460 000 units, 60 per cent of which will be public housing, consisting of 200 000 public rental housing units and 80 000 subsidised sale flats.  At present, there is still a gap between the supply target and land available for public housing development.  The Government will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to increase housing land supply in the short, medium and long term through conducting land use reviews and rezoning exercises, increasing development intensity, developing new development areas, etc.  When implementing these measures, the Government often meet with challenges and questions.  Relevant Government departments face these challenges in a serious manner and have been explaining in great details to stakeholders regarding the importance of the initiatives.  We will continue our efforts in exploring more land resources for new housing development and will not give up lightly on any project or its potential scope of development.  We hope that the community can accord priority to the overall interests of the society and support the Government’s continuous efforts in identifying land for housing development in order to address the imminent housing needs of the public.
     Having consolidated the information provided by Development Bureau and relevant departments, set out below is my reply to various parts of the question raised by the Hon Andrew Wan.
     In response to earlier media enquiries concerning the consultation with Tuen Mun District Council (TMDC) in 2014 on the San Hing Road public housing development, we pointed out that prior to the consultation with TMDC, the Housing Department (HD) and relevant departments conducted five informal lobbying sessions from May to August that year.  Local representatives attended the meetings included the then Vice-chairman of 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 constituency concerned, First Vice-chairman of the Tuen Mun Rural Committee and village representatives concerned.  Local representatives expressed various concerns on the proposal, including traffic and transportation, the impact on the existing operations on the development site, etc.  On September 2, 2014, HD, Planning Department (PlanD) and relevant departments consulted TMDC on the public housing development at San Hing Road and the relevant Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) amendments, and mentioned at the meeting that two planning applications had been submitted for two private residential developments within the site of the San Hing Road public housing development.  According to the proposal of the public housing development at that time, the development site included the area covered by the two aforesaid planning applications for private developments.  At the meeting, DC members expressed their views on various issues, including concerns over traffic and transportation, rural industries, demolition and relocation, compensation issues, etc.  The Government was not able to obtain TMDC’s support on the proposed public housing development at that meeting.  Details can be found in the minutes of the relevant TMDC meeting (Note).  After the TMDC meeting, relevant departments conducted a site inspection on September 11 with the DC member of the constituency concerned, the First Vice-chairman of Tuen Mun Rural Committee, village representatives and villagers, and attended a local consultation session on September 13  to gather views and concerns of local residents regarding the San Hing Road public housing development.
     Subsequently, having considered the views of DC members, relevant departments have been proactively examining ways to adjust the public housing development plan on the proposed site and the surrounding areas and to address the other concerns expressed.  In response to media enquiries regarding the development on September 29, 2016, the Government mentioned the current consideration to develop the project in two portions.  According to the latest assessment, 1 700 units can be developed in the first portion while 5 600 units can be developed in the second portion, providing a total of 7 300 units.  Since the relevant study is still in process, there are still uncertainties which require careful consideration.  Hence, details of the proposal are yet to be determined and the number of units may also change.  HD briefed TMDC again on November 1, 2016 on the latest progress of the Hong Kong Housing Authority’s public housing developments in Tuen Mun district, including the San Hing Road public housing development.
     Regarding the question on the two planning applications for private residential developments (application numbers A/TM-LYTT/273 and A/TM-LTYY/282), they were processed in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance and submitted to the Town Planning Board (TPB) for consideration.  At the above-mentioned meeting of September 2, 2014, TMDC did not pass any motion to request TPB to defer processing the two planning applications for private residential developments.  The Rural and New Town Planning Committee (RNTPC) of TPB approved application A/TM-LTYY/273 on October 17, 2014, after considering factors including the fact that the proposed development parameters complied with the development restrictions of the "Residential (Group E)" (R(E)) zone; that the proposed development did not involve technical problems; that the private residential development under application was more mature than the proposed public housing development; and that there were no strong justifications to reject the application.  PlanD did relay TMDC's comments on the San Hing Road public housing development at the RNTPC meeting.  On March 13, 2015, RNTPC processed application A/TM-LTYY/282.  Since the application complied with the planning intention and development restrictions of the "R(E)" zone; no technical problems were involved; and its approval would be in line with the decision of the earlier application A/TM-LTYY/273, RNTPC approved application A/TM-LTYY/282.  In general, upon obtaining planning approval for a development proposal, the applicant has to apply for the modification of the relevant land lease conditions as necessary and obtain the approval of the Building Authority on building plans in order to comply with the land lease conditions and relevant legislation regarding development before proceeding with the development proposal.
     We will take into account relevant factors in a comprehensive manner in formulating an appropriate development proposal for the San Hing Road public housing development.  Thereafter, we will consult the District Council in accordance with the established procedures.
Note: The minutes of the TMDC meeting on September 2, 2014 can be accessed via the following link:
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:11
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