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LCQ18: Management of temporary open spaces
     Following is a question by the Hon Hui Chi-fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (April 26):
     Some members of the public have complained to me that the facilities of some temporary open spaces are poor and those open spaces are even overgrown with weeds, the conditions of which are in stark contrast to those of official open spaces. Regarding the management of temporary open spaces, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the respective locations and areas of temporary open spaces across the territory at present, as well as the respective numbers of years lapsed since they were put to such use, and set out such information by District Council district;
(2) as I have learnt that some sites have been used as temporary open spaces for more than 10 years, or even as long as 40 years, whether the authorities have assessed if their failure for a long period of time to designate such sites as official open spaces has (i) violated the relevant planning principles, and (ii) prejudiced the right of nearby residents to enjoy better facilities;
(3) how the policies on and the measures for managing temporary open spaces by the authorities compare with those regarding the management of official open spaces; whether they will consider improving the facilities of various temporary open spaces for use by the public; and
(4) whether it has considered selecting some temporary open spaces for designation as official open spaces; if so, of the details and selection criteria? 

     Upon consolidating the information provided by the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), the Lands Department (LandsD) and the Planning Department (PlanD), the reply to the four-part question is as follows:
(1)  According to information of LCSD, there are a total of 237 facilities provided by LCSD the land of which has been allocated to it by way of temporary land allocation.  Relevant information of these venues is at Annex 1.
     Apart from the above sites, there are other sites allocated to government departments by way of temporary land allocation for purposes related to temporary open space (e.g. parks, pavilion, playground, ball courts).  According to the records of LandsD, the total number of temporary land allocations is 748 at present (including temporary land allocations allocated to LCSD as mentioned above) and the total area is about 76 hectares.  LandsD does not have readily available information on the numbers of years for which these allocations have been put to such use.  The information related to these temporary land allocations by District Council district is set out at Annex 2.
(2) to (4) Generally speaking, PlanD will take into account such factors as the planned population of a district, the circumstances of open space provision, the requirements of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, and the advice or requirements of relevant bureaux/departments (B/Ds) (e.g. HAB and LCSD), etc. to plan and reserve suitable land for open space in a district to meet the demand of the public.  Apart from planning and reserving land, LandsD will, where practicable and appropriate, allocate individual sites pending leasing or allocation for long-term planning use and other government land with long-term uses not yet ready for implementation or earmarked as reserve for long-term use, to individual B/Ds for temporary uses, including allocating to relevant departments for providing temporary open space and leisure facilities, in order to optimise the utilisation of land resources and allow the public to have early enjoyment of more open space.  As open space is a permitted use in most land use zonings falling within the boundaries of Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs), the provision of temporary open space and recreation facilities does not breach the planning principles of the relevant OZPs.
     Relevant B/Ds will implement relevant open space projects at an appropriate time according to considerations such as its priority on works programmes and utilisation of resources.  As mentioned above, provided that the planned long-term use of a site (including other sites with land use zonings other than "Open Space") is not affected, relevant B/Ds may also consider providing temporary open space or leisure facilities on individual sites to optimise the use of land resources as well as to temporarily alleviate the local demand for open space provision.  When providing these leisure facilities, the Government would consider a range of factors such as the area and duration of the land available for development, the surrounding environment, the needs of the residents in the district concerned as well as the facilities in nearby venues, etc., and consult the District Councils on the proposed design and facilities to be provided.  As regards the temporary leisure facilities under LCSD, they are mainly small gardens, sitting-out areas and playgrounds.  In respect of the management arrangements, they are managed in a similar way as other open spaces managed by the department.
     To meet the development needs of the community and ensure the optimal use of land resources, the Government carries out land use reviews from time to time, including rezoning suitable government land to other uses that meet the more pressing needs of the community, such as land for housing, economic uses, government, institution or community facilities and open space uses.  In general, the Government will consult relevant District Councils and stakeholders on the rezoning proposals.  The rezoning proposals have to go through the statutory processes for town planning, including display of the rezoning proposal for public inspection and receiving representations and comments from the public in accordance with relevant procedures.
Ends/Wednesday, April 26, 2017
Issued at HKT 18:58
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