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Arising from recent media reports and enquiries on "vacant government land", the Development Bureau (DEVB) gives the following response and clarification today (October 31).

The information on "vacant government land" within residential land released by DEVB previously was to respond to a question raised by a Legislative Council Member. We prepared that reply on the basis of unleased and unallocated government land under "Residential" and "Commercial/Residential" zones on statutory plans (including Outline Zoning Plans and Development Permission Area Plans). The area of such land is calculated simply by subtracting the areas of leased or allocated land under the concerned land use zones from the total areas covered by such zones on the statutory plans, using information available in the system as at end June 2012. The figure from such calculation is not equivalent to the amount of land reserve. DEVB released such information and the maps showing the geographic distribution of such land on its website on October 17. Please click the following links for details:

DEVB's reply to the question clearly pointed out that the aforementioned unleased and unallocated government land is not equivalent to land immediately available for development. It is because land that are considered not suitable for development (e.g. roads/passageways and man-made slopes), land that are not yet available for development (e.g. land allocated under the Simplified Temporary Land Allocation (STLA) procedures, which include land allocated to Government departments as temporary work sites), or land with low development potential (e.g. fragmented sites, i.e. sites less than 0.05 hectares in area) have been included. Besides, the Administration has also indicated that not all the remaining 391.5 hectares of "Residential" and "Commercial/Residential" land are developable, but the suitability of individual sites for development would depend on a number of factors. For sites with potential for development, the Administration will review and assess its development feasibility under the established mechanism.

The spokesman also indicated that after excluding roads/passageways, man-made slopes, land allocated under the STLA procedures, and fragmented sites, there remain a number of sites with irregular shapes within the unleased and unallocated government land (e.g. empty space between buildings, back lanes and narrow strips of land alongside existing developments, highways or other amenities) and they may not be suitable for housing development. The two sites near the Sha Tin Wai Station of the Ma On Shan Line mentioned in media reports belong to this type of land.

For the government land on which squatters are built (including the land within Yuen Long Shan Pui Chung Hau Tsuen mentioned in media reports), as there have not been any leasing or allocation, those land are still counted as unleased and unallocated government land, and are thus shown on the maps released on October 17. When necessary and appropriate, the Government could use the land for development.

As there are individual pieces of land with government buildings thereon (e.g. official residences of the Chief Secretary for Administration, Financial Secretary, Secretary for Justice, Commissioner of Police and Chief Justice of the Court of Final Appeal) which are not allocated to any Government department, they are thus still counted as unleased and unallocated government land and shown on the maps released on October 17. As mentioned above, the area of unleased and unallocated government land is not equivalent to the amount of land reserve. These land with government buildings thereon are not included in the area of land available for development.

The spokesman supplemented that it takes time for the Lands Department (LandsD) to process information and update the system. Hence, the records of a few sites which were sold on or before June 30 this year (the residential site with flat size restrictions at Long Ping Station, Yuen Long, sold in March last year, and the residential site at Deep Water Bay Drive, Shouson Hill, tendered out in May this year, which were mentioned in media reports) had yet to be updated when the calculation was done. Information of a few sites which were allocated to Government departments (including the Housing Authority) on or before June 30 this year (including the five public housing estates mentioned in media reports, namely the Shin Ming Estate at Tiu Keng Leng, Tung Yi House and Tung Kin House of the Tai Hang Tung Estate, Tsui Luk House of the Tsui Lok Estate at Chai Wan, Hong Shui House of the Hong Tung Estate at Sai Wan Ho, and the open space in front of Hiu Kwai House of the Kwai Chung Estate) also could not reflect the existing status when the calculation was done. LandsD is now reviewing and improving its procedures with a view to updating the relevant information more quickly and reflecting the latest status more timely in future.

ENDS