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LCQ9: Housing construction projects of Hong Kong Housing Authority
     Following is a question by the Hon Lau Kwok-fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Transport and Housing, Mr Frank Chan Fan, in the Legislative Council today (June 1):
     In each of the past three financial years, the actual housing production of the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) has fallen short of the target, with a difference of some 9 000 flats between them. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the following information on each of HA's housing projects completed in the past three financial years: (i) the date on which HA took possession of the site from the Government, (ii) the date on which HA's Building Committee approved the detailed design and estimated expenditure of the project, (iii) the date on which HA commenced tender invitation and awarded the building contract, (iv) the dates on which the foundation works were commenced and completed, (v) the dates on which the superstructure works were commenced and completed, and (vi) the date or the expected date for the first resident intake (set out in the table below);
Financial year Name of project (i) (ii) (iii) (iv) (v) (vi)
(2) whether there were projects among the aforesaid projects the completion of which was delayed; if so, of the name of the projects concerned and the reasons for the delay (including the problems involved); among such projects, whether there were cases caused by the contractors' delay in carrying out the works; if so, whether HA has sought compensation from the contractors or deducted contract payments in accordance with the contract terms;
(3) given that according to the key performance indicators set out in HA's Corporate Plan 2021/22, the target of "average development lead time for housing projects" is 60 months, of the definition of "lead time", and the total number of those projects mentioned in (1) which have achieved the target of average development lead time; and
(4) whether HA has plans to adjust the target mentioned in (3) in order to speed up housing production and enhance efficiency; if not, of the reasons for that?

     Our reply to the Hon Lau Kwok-fan's question is as follows:
(1) and (2) According to the Hong Kong Housing Authority's (HA) Corporate Plan 2021/22, the target of new public housing flats to be provided in the three financial years from 2019/20 to 2021/22 were about 18 200, 12 900 and 28 200 flats (Note) respectively; while the actual public housing production as announced by the HA were about 13 100, 11 300, and 25 800 flats (Note) respectively. In order to expedite the progress, before site handover (i.e. in parallel with the Government's land production processes), the HA will carry out pre-construction preparatory tasks, including formulating planning briefs, conducting detailed design, site investigation, inviting tender, etc., with a view to commencing the construction works as soon as the sites are handed over to the HA. 
     The construction works undertaken by the HA mainly include foundation works and building works. Depending on the conditions of individual projects, project budget and scheme design would be considered and approved by the Building Committee of the HA about one year before site handover, followed by preparation of tendering for the foundation works. Invitation to tender for foundation works would be made in about five months' time and the foundation works contract would be awarded afterwards in about five months' time. In order to commence building works immediately after the completion of foundation works, invitation to tender for building works would be carried out while foundation works are in progress.
     Foundation and building works normally take about four to five years to complete but may vary depending on the conditions of individual sites, including the ground and geological conditions of the sites, the project design and number of storeys of the building blocks for land optimisation, as well as other unforeseeable factors such as inclement weather, etc. If a project requires demolition of existing structure or site formation and geotechnical works, the HA will include such works in foundation and/or building works where feasible, so as to streamline the preparatory work. Structural works and building services installations will be carried out concurrently with the building works in order to minimise construction time.
     In general, occupation permit (OP) can be obtained about two to three months after project completion. As regards the timing of flat intake, to expedite the allocation of public rental housing (PRH) for applicants on the waiting list, the HA has implemented the Modified Advance Allocation Scheme since 2000. To speed up the allocation process, upon completion of a new PRH estate and prior to the issue of OP, flats will be allocated to eligible PRH applicants in advance so that applicants can proceed with intake formalities as soon as possible after OP is issued for the new flats. We will continue to examine relevant measures to further speed up the allocation of PRH flats. Details of the relevant projects and reasons for delay or advancement of the completion date is at Annex.
     Regarding the estimated completion years of these projects, the information on housing production is currently publicised in terms of financial year, i.e. between April of a year and March of the following year. When certain projects encounter slight delay in completion (especially those with target completion dates in March), the completion dates will fall into the next financial year. However, the completion of such projects has not been deferred by one year.
     In respect of projects with deferred completion, the HA will keep on monitoring and take corresponding mitigation measures, which include urging constructors to increase manpower, expediting construction progress, stepping up site inspections, convening site meetings, carrying out site supervision and on-site examination, etc. These measures help address the challenges encountered during the construction stage in an effective and speedy manner, with a view to facilitating the completion of the projects as scheduled. Taking the recent uncertainty in cross-boundary material delivery due to the epidemic as an example, the Government and the HA have immediately liaised with factories producing different precast components to explore various mitigation measures to minimise the impacts on public housing construction as far as practicable. In case there is construction delay by the contractors, depending on the actual circumstances, the HA will deduct the liquidated damages from the payment to the contractors according to the agreement terms. Only one project listed in the Annex (i.e. Sau Ming Road) was deferred due to the works progress of the contractor. As a result, liquidated damages have been deducted from the contractor according to the contract terms.
(3) and (4) The Key Performance Indicator (KPI) of "average development lead time for housing projects" in the HA's Corporate Plan refers to the average time required for developing a typical 40-storey block without podium or basement. This target had generally been met in the past. The tasks generally required to be carried out by the HA include detailed design, technical studies, liaison with relevant departments on planning and site-handover matters, ground investigation, as well as tendering and construction of foundation and building works, etc. This KPI is an annual average reference figure. The development lead time of individual projects varies according to the development parameters of the sites and other related factors (e.g. project which has to retain, demolish or re-provide some existing public facilities in order to vacate the site for housing construction; involves complicated underground conditions or slopes; special planning requirements and constraints on site during construction; or requires coordination of concurrent government works in the vicinity, etc). The HA will regularly review the target when formulating its annual Corporate Plan and may update the target as appropriate.

     The HA endeavours to expedite the development process and optimise the development potential of each and every public housing site where practicable. To optimise land utilisation, the Government requires the HA to increase the provision of social welfare and car parking facilities, etc. within public housing sites. Projects with site constraints will necessitate the construction of multi-storey podium or basement to house the above facilities before residential blocks can be built on top, and this will inevitably lengthen the lead time for construction works. Depending on individual site conditions, the HA will adopt the most suitable planning, design and construction measures to expedite construction and facilitate phased completion of the projects and residential blocks as far as practicable. In addition, the HA will optimise the development potential of the sites by, for instance, submitting planning applications to suitably relax the development restrictions of the sites, and increase site area through enlarging and/or amalgamating sites, with a view to increasing housing production.

     In terms of building design, the HA has been applying modular flat design of four different sizes of flat to domestic blocks in public housing development. Productivity has been enhanced through the adoption of consistent design standards, wider application of mechanised construction and volumetric precast components. For development projects of adequate scale and with less site constraints, the HA will also design domestic blocks of similar configuration in the same project as far as possible to further enhance and facilitate the construction efficiency.

     As regards construction, the HA actively adopts technologies to enhance efficiency in construction. This includes extending the application of Building Information Modelling and other innovative technologies such as laser scanning and unmanned aerial systems in the planning, design and construction stages; utilising mobile devices and mobile applications for site supervision to streamline on-site communication and workflow; using construction robotics to address labour shortage; making use of technologies to improve site safety management; and applying and actively exploring Multi-trade Integrated Mechanical, Electrical and Plumbing (MiMEP) for building services installation.
Note: Flat numbers are rounded to the nearest hundred.
Ends/Wednesday, June 1, 2022
Issued at HKT 15:55
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