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LCQ1: Sites leased under private recreational leases
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     Following is a question by the Hon Andrew Wan and a reply by the Secretary for Home Affairs, Mr Lau Kong-wah, in the Legislative Council today (January 31):

Question:
 
     The Government has leased dozens of pieces of land under private recreational leases (PRLs) to private clubs for them to develop sports and recreational facilities for use by their members.  Fanling Golf Course (FGC) is one of them.  According to the results of an opinion survey conducted by the Democratic Party from the end of last year to early this year, among the some 1,000 respondents, about 70% of them considered that the land resources occupied by FGC was excessive.  Moreover, 90% of the respondents opined that the Government should rezone FGC for other uses.  Among them, the percentages of those who held the views that the site should be used for developing public housing, government or community facilities, and private housing were 55%, 17% and 12% respectively.  On the other hand, it was reported in the press early this month that, as pointed out in the report of a study conducted by the Planning Department, it was technically feasible to use a 16-hectare site in the eastern part of FGC, which was close to the major infrastructure in the district, for building 5,000 to 6,000 residential units.  Although there were old trees and graves on the site, they would not affect the building of such units.  Regarding sites leased under PRLs, will the Government inform this Council:
 
(1) whether it will make reference to the aforesaid survey results and decline to renew the PRL for FGC upon its expiry in August 2020, in order to make the site available for housing development;
 
(2) whether it knows how the situation of FGC's facilities being opened up to outsiders in each of the past five years compares to the undertaking made by the lessee; whether the Government will require the lessee to step up publicity on the arrangements for opening up FGC's facilities to outsiders; and 
 
(3) of the number of PRLs not renewed upon expiry (with a breakdown of the reasons and site areas by name of lessee), and the number of cases in which the Government continued, upon expiry of PRLs, to lease the sites concerned to the lessees by way of short term tenancy or private treaty instead, in the past 10 years, and set out the term of the new leases by name of lessee?

Reply:
 
Acting President,
 
     In the past, owing to the limited provision of recreational and sports facilities in Hong Kong, people interested in promoting sports development and providing recreational and sports facilities established sports clubs and applied to the Government for grant of land to develop such facilities.  In addition to private sports clubs, non-profit-making organisations such as social and welfare organisations, uniformed groups, national sports associations, district sports associations and civil service organisations were granted land by the Government to develop recreational and sports facilities under private recreational leases (PRLs) at nil or nominal premium.  Of the existing 66 PRL sites in Hong Kong, 39 are granted to community groups such as social and welfare organisations, uniformed groups, national sports associations and district sports associations, as well as civil service organisations.  The remaining 27 PRL sites are held by private sports clubs.
 
     In 2014, an inter-departmental working group was set up by the Government to comprehensively review the PRL policy.  The working group has examined a number of issues relating to the PRL policy and will recommend an array of measures to ensure that the operation of private sports clubs and the use of PRL sites can better meet the dual objectives of supporting sports development and optimising public resources.  We expect to report the review findings to the Legislative Council Panel on Home Affairs within this year, and subsequently consult the public and stakeholders.  Regarding the three parts of the question, my reply is as follows:
 
(1) As the policy bureau responsible for sports development, the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB) will examine in detail each and every private sports club's contribution to the implementation of the Government's sports development policy (including promoting community sports, supporting elite sports and making Hong Kong a centre for major international sports events) in order to consider whether to support their continued use of the sites concerned.  If the Government decides to resume a particular site, relevant bureaux and departments will carefully consider, in accordance with the established mechanism, alternate uses of the site or any parts of it.
 
(2) To strengthen the role of PRL sites in supporting sports development in Hong Kong, the Executive Council approved in 2011 the addition of the "greater access" requirement during the renewal of PRLs.  Under this policy, a provision was added to PRLs expiring in 2011 and 2012 when they were renewed to require the opening-up of sports facilities to eligible outside bodies for a minimum of 50 hours per month.  Eligible outside bodies include schools registered under the Education Ordinance, non-governmental organisations receiving recurrent subvention from the Social Welfare Department, uniformed groups and youth organisations receiving recurrent subvention from HAB, national sports associations and government departments.  Lessees are required to submit their "opening-up schemes" to HAB for approval before the lease renewal.  When vetting such schemes, HAB will consider the provision of facilities by individual lessees.  Those with more sports facilities available for use by eligible outside bodies will be required to commit more opening-up hours.
 
     The abovementioned greater access requirement, which was added to PRLs expiring in 2011 and 2012, is not part of the clauses of the current lease signed in 1999 for the Fanling Golf Course (FGC).  The lessee, i.e. the Hong Kong Golf Club, is therefore not required to submit an "opening-up scheme" under the lease.  Despite this, the Club has been encouraged to open up facilities to outside bodies and promote the opening-up arrangements.  It is also required to submit quarterly reports on the opening-up of facilities to outside bodies.  According to the lessee, FGC's 18-hole golf courses and driving ranges are open to the public from 7am to 6pm and from 7am to 10pm respectively on weekdays.  Outside bodies, such as schools, social and welfare organisations, the Hong Kong Golf Association and the Hong Kong Schools Sports Federation, also use the facilities of the Club.  In 2017, the Fanling Golf Course held about 120,000 rounds of golf activities, with about 50,000 rounds by non-members, which accounts for over 40% of the overall utilisation. 
 
(3) PRLs are one type of government land leases.  Lease holders may apply with justifications to have their original lease arrangements replaced by other land leases.  For PRL sites with committed development uses, the Government may resume, under the Land Resumption Ordinance or via the resumption clauses of the existing leases, all or any parts of such sites for public uses.  Information of PRLs not renewed or leased on alternative arrangements in the past 10 years is at Annex.

     ‚ÄčThank you Acting President. 
 
Ends/Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Issued at HKT 13:00
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