CE's speech in delivering "The Chief Executive's 2022 Policy Address" to LegCo (5)

Land: Increasing Reserve and Regaining Control of Supply

Multi-pronged Approach to Enhance Quantity

68. To assume a leading role in land supply, the Government will identify more land to meet demand and build up the land reserve, including developable land from the new round of study on "Green Belt" zone and the consultancy study on Agricultural Priority Areas. There are approximately 16 000 hectares of "Green Belt" areas in Hong Kong, but over half of them are subject to clear development constraints, such as steep slopes and ecological sensitivity. Among the remaining 8 000 hectares, 1 200 hectares have been included in various development projects. In the new round of study, we have shortlisted about 255 hectares of "Green Belt" sites with potential for housing development, which can provide 70 000 units. The rezoning of the first batch of sites will commence by 2024. The Planning Department will complete the review of the development potential of all the remaining "Green Belt" areas next year.

69. We also strive to redevelop brownfield sites. There are currently 1 600 hectares of brownfield sites in the New Territories, and more than half of them will gradually be developed for housing and other uses. Take the Kwu Tung North/Fanling North NDA as an example. Brownfield sites with land clearance that began two years ago have completed site formation works this year for handover to the HKHA for public housing development. While speeding up the resumption of brownfield sites for development, the Government will cater to the needs of the affected, such as squatter occupants and brownfield operators. For example, we plan to make available land in Yuen Long and Hung Shui Kiu for development of multi-storey industrial buildings from next year, with lease conditions requiring a certain portion of floor area to be set aside for leasing to the affected brownfield operators below market rent.

70. In addition, we will put forward the development proposal for Tseung Kwan O (TKO) Area 137 this year. It is expected to provide 50 000 residential units with the first population intake in 2030 at the earliest.

Multi-pronged Approach to Enhance Speed and Efficiency

71. To substantially compress the time required for land production, we will:

(i) streamline statutory procedures – We will streamline various procedures with respect to planning, environmental impact assessment (EIA), land resumption and infrastructure through the introduction of a bill to amend the Town Planning Ordinance, the Land Resumption Ordinance, the Foreshore and Sea-bed (Reclamations) Ordinance, the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance and the Railways Ordinance, as well as amendment to the Schedules to the EIA Ordinance within this year. For projects other than large-scale ones, the time required for turning "primitive land" into "spade-ready sites" for housing development will be reduced from at least 6 years to 4 years, while the time required for large-scale projects will be substantially reduced from 13 years to 7 years, of which the time for the EIA process will be compressed to within 18 to 24 months. We will also open up the environmental baseline data next year to enhance the efficiency of the EIA process;

(ii) further streamline administrative procedures – We will review key topics including the gross floor area (GFA) concession arrangement for carparks, approval guidelines concerning developments in the wetland buffer area, self-certification and independent checking arrangement, as well as procedures concerning the felling and compensatory planting of trees. We aim to put forward concrete proposals progressively starting from mid‑2023;

(iii) expedite the approval of building plans – The Buildings Department will establish Dedicated Processing Units adopting a "facilitator" mindset to expedite the approval process of general building plans submitted for high-yield private residential projects. The target is to approve about 80% of the plans on their first or second submission. In addition, we will devise a roadmap on the industry's use of Building Information Modelling (BIM) in preparing building plans for submission to departments for approval. An application software will be launched in the first quarter of 2024 to automate compliance checks by the industry on the floor area information in relevant plans;

(iv) extend the arrangement for charging land premium at standard rates – We will regularise the arrangement for charging land premium at standard rates for redevelopment of industrial buildings. We will also extend this approach, now applicable only to the redevelopment of industrial buildings and in-situ land exchange applications in NDAs, to cover agricultural land in the New Territories located outside NDAs to compress relevant workflow. We target to present a concrete plan by mid‑2023;

(v) speed up the consolidation of property interests to facilitate urban renewal of old areas – We propose lowering the compulsory sale application thresholds for private buildings aged 50 or above but below 70 from 80% to 70% of ownership, and further to 60% for those aged 70 or above. For industrial buildings in non-industrial zoning, the threshold will be lowered to 70% of ownership for those aged 30 years or above.

We will also relax the requirements on compulsory sale applications covering abutting lots, streamline the legal procedures for compulsory sale, and set up a dedicated office to provide additional support to affected minority owners. We will consult the LegCo and stakeholders  on the proposals within this year; and

(vi) streamline the arrangement for land lease extension – As a considerable number of land leases will expire from 2025 onward, the Government will introduce a bill next year such that expiring land leases will be extended regularly and in a consistent manner. This will save individual lot owners from dealing with the complicated procedures and bearing expensive costs in executing lease extension documents, and substantially reduce the time required for lease extension.

Enhance Transparency

72. To enhance transparency, the Steering Committee on Land and Housing Supply will formulate and regularly publish a 10-year forecast of supply of developable land. The first forecast will be released shortly. Similarly, the Task Force on Public Housing Projects will regularly publish a 10-year forecast of supply of public housing.

Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands

73. The Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands will expand the scope and capacity of Hong Kong's development and greatly enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a financial, commercial and trade centre. Given their close proximity to Lantau Island, the 1 000-hectare Artificial Islands have good linkage with the Hong Kong International Airport and the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, and are well-positioned to tap economic opportunities from overseas and the GBA. To optimise Hong Kong's overall transport network, new rail links and a road transport network will be constructed to connect with Hong Kong Island West, Lantau Island and Northwest New Territories; a fourth cross-harbour tunnel will also be built.

74. The Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands have three major planning objectives:

(i) prosperity and diversity – They will support the development of the third central business district to consolidate Hong Kong's position as an international financial centre. We will also reserve land outside the central business district for emerging industries to provide diversified opportunities for young people;
(ii) green and liveable – Based on the recommendations of the Hong Kong 2030+, we will enhance accommodation and living space by increasing the average flat size of public and private housing by a range of 10% to 20% as the assumption when planning land development, as well as raising the ratios of land for open space and land for community facilities to population to no less than 3.5 square metres per person; and

(iii) forward-looking and innovative – We will fully implement the strategy of a smart, green and resilient city by formulating measures in urban design, infrastructure and mobility to reduce everyday energy demand; we will also reduce carbon emissions through the adoption of green energy and advanced food waste treatment technology.

75. We will put forth proposals on the scope of reclamation, land use, transport infrastructure network and financing options regarding the Artificial Islands within this year. Our target is to commence the EIA process next year and kick-start the reclamation works in 2025.

Drive Development by Transport Infrastructure

76. I will pursue the principle of "bringing forward infrastructure construction and increasing development capacity", as mentioned in my election manifesto, by taking forward the three major road projects and three strategic railway projects recommended in the Strategic Studies on Railways and Major Roads beyond 2030. The projects will bring about a highly inter-connected and accessible road network and rail system, and vigorously drive and support future development of Hong Kong. The six major transport infrastructure projects are:

(i) Northern Metropolis Highway – It will facilitate east-west connectivity in the New Territories North between Tin Shui Wai in the west and Kwu Tung North in the east via San Tin, and expand transport capacity in the Northern Metropolis;

(ii) Shatin Bypass – This north-south new trunk road connecting Tai Po and Kowloon West will give residents of the New Territories East a faster route to urban areas and relieve traffic pressure on Tolo Highway;

(iii) TKO-Yau Tong Tunnel – Construction of the third road tunnel at TKO will synchronise with the future development of TKO Area 137 and improve its external connections;

(iv) Hong Kong-Shenzhen Western Rail Link – It will connect Hung Shui Kiu with Qianhai to facilitate travel between Hong Kong and Shenzhen and promote connectivity and integrated development between Hong Kong and the GBA;
(v) Central Rail Link – The construction of the 12th railway line will connect Kam Tin in Yuen Long with Kowloon Tong via Kwai Chung, alleviating pressure on the carrying capacity of the Tuen Ma Line; and

(vi) TKO Line Southern Extension – This is an extension of the TKO Line southwards to TKO Area 137, which will enhance the transport facilities in the area.

77. We will continue to take forward other railway projects in the Northern Metropolis. Kwu Tung Station of the Northern Link will be commissioned in 2027, and the construction works for Hung Shui Kiu Station and the Northern Link Main Line will commence within the current-term of the  Government. We are also actively following up on the work relating to the Northern Link Spur Line's connection with the new Huanggang Port in Shenzhen via the HSITP in Lok Ma Chau Loop. Railway projects in other areas are also progressing well, with the construction works of the Tung Chung Line Extension, Oyster Bay Station and Tuen Mun South Extension commencing next year.

78. We will also expedite the implementation of a number of road infrastructure projects under planning, including Route 11, Tsing Yi-Lantau Link and Tuen Mun Bypass, as well as improvements to Lion Rock Tunnel.

(To be continued.)

Ends/Wednesday, October 19, 2022
Issued at HKT 12:40