LCQ17: Land resumption by Government for redevelopment projects implemented by Urban Renewal Authority
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 (June 21):
At present, in the event that the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) cannot reach agreements on acquisition of property titles with the owners of properties in a redevelopment project area due to issues such as acquisition prices and vesting of titles, it may, under the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (Cap. 563), apply to the Government for resumption by the Government, under the Lands Resumption Ordinance (Cap. 124), of those property titles which have not been acquired so that those titles would revert to the Government. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows URA's criteria for deciding whether or not to make an application to the Government for compulsory resumption of property titles; whether such criteria include the successful acquisition of no less than a certain percentage of the property titles within the redevelopment project area; and
(2) of the following details of the redevelopment projects in respect of which URA's applications for compulsory resumption of property titles were approved in the past five years: (i) the project name, (ii) site area, (iii) the number of property titles compulsorily resumed, and (iv) the amount of public expenditure incurred for making compensation or ex-gratia payments to the property owners whose property titles were compulsorily resumed?
After consulting the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and the Lands Department (LandsD), my reply to the two-part question is as follows:
(1) Under section 29 of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (URAO), the URA may make an application to the Secretary for Development (SDEV) requesting the Government to make recommendation to the Chief Executive in Council for the resumption of land required for the implementation of the URA's redevelopment projects pursuant to the Lands Resumption Ordinance (LRO). Generally speaking, land resumption shall cover the entire lot, including the private titles to the affected land which have been transferred to the URA, in order to extinguish all and any rights and interests in the land concerned which include those illegal occupiers of the common areas of the buildings on that land.
Even though the URA can apply for resumption of land for redevelopment pursuant to the URAO, for every development project, it will always make best efforts to make acquisition offers to the owners concerned through negotiation for acquiring their property titles before land resumption by the Government. The percentage of successful acquisition through negotiation depends on a number of factors, such as owners' preference, market situation, location of the project, distribution of ownership, how the property is occupied, problem of title defects and proportion of untraceable owners, etc. Therefore, it is difficult to give a general percentage in this regard. Neither the URAO nor the LRO have laid down a fixed percentage by which property titles must be acquired by the URA through negotiation. When the URA considers that its acquisition exercise has entered a mature stage and it is difficult to make further acquisition, it will request the SDEV to initiate the process and consider putting up a proposal to the Chief Executive in Council for resuming the land necessary for the relevant redevelopment project pursuant to the LRO. This will ensure acquisition of all the titles for early commencement of rehousing and redevelopment.
After consideration, if the SDEV decides to invoke the URAO to recommend land resumption to the Chief Executive in Council and an approval has been given, the LandsD will offer relevant compensation to the affected persons in compliance with the LRO. If an agreement cannot be reached on the amount of compensation, the person affected may refer the case to the Lands Tribunal for determination. The amount determined by the Lands Tribunal shall be binding on the claimant and the Government. Therefore, the rights of the affected persons to compensation when their properties are resumed are protected under the law.
(2) Over the past five financial years, a total of 19 projects requiring land resumption approved by the Chief Executive in Council have been commenced by the URA in different districts. Please see the attached Table for details.
Ends/Wednesday, June 21, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:00