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LCQ6: Statistical information on government properties and sites

Following is a question by the Hon Nathan Law and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (June 7):

Question:

On the 17th of last month, the Planning Department (PlanD) indicated that it had, under the Central Clearing House mechanism, reviewed and confirmed the long-term uses of the sites of 183 vacant school premises (VSP). On the other hand, the Government Property Agency (GPA) is responsible for the management of government properties and ensuring that "Government, Institution or Community" (G/IC) sites are fully utilised, and the Lands Department (LandsD) may allocate government sites to various government departments for temporary uses. Regarding the statistical information on government properties and sites, will the Government inform this Council of:
 
(1) the criteria adopted by PlanD for determining the long-term uses of the aforesaid VSP sites; whether the authorities will, among the VSP sites confirmed to be used for G/IC purposes, allocate one of such sites to The Boys' Brigade, Hong Kong, which was unsuccessful in its application for the use of a VSP in June last year, for use as its head office and change the uses of the remaining 182 sites to the use for developing public housing under the principle of "putting public lands to public uses", in order to alleviate the problem of public housing shortage; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
 
(2) the number of vacant government properties currently managed by GPA and their total gross floor area, the total area of the sites where such properties are located, and the respective differences in the actual and permitted maximum plot ratios of such sites, broken down separately by District Council district and original use; and
 
(3) the number of the sites which LandsD has currently allocated to various government departments for temporary uses and their total area, and the respective numbers and total areas of the sites which have to be surrendered to LandsD within the coming three years, five years and 10 years, broken down separately by District Council district and current use?
 
Reply:

President,

Having consulted the Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, Government Property Agency (GPA), Planning Department (PlanD) and Lands Department (LandsD), our reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
 
(1) Paying heed to the management principle of optimising land resources, if any vacant school premises (VSP) is confirmed by the Education Bureau (EDB) to be no longer required for school or other educational uses, EDB will inform PlanD and other relevant departments in accordance with the established Central Clearing House mechanism. PlanD will then consider the suitable alternative long-term uses for the concerned VSP sites. Up till now, PlanD has reviewed and confirmed the long-term uses of 183 VSP sites under the Central Clearing House mechanism. In considering the long-term uses of VSP sites, PlanD will take into account a series of planning factors, including the planning intention of these sites and the surrounding land uses and environment. PlanD will also consult the relevant bureaux and departments in accordance with the established practice. Whether a VSP site is suitable for high-density development depends on its size, location, compatibility with the surrounding land uses, adequacy of transport and infrastructure facilities, development or technical constraints, development needs of the respective district, etc.

Of the 183 VSP sites reviewed, more than 70 per cent are less than 0.3 hectares, which are relatively small in size, and many of them are located in relatively remote rural areas lacking transport and infrastructure facilities. It will be difficult for such sites to accommodate high-density housing development (including public housing). Overall, only 18 VSP sites are considered suitable for housing development upon review.

There are 137 VSP sites recommended for "Government, Institution or Community" (G/IC) uses, most of which are located within the existing G/IC clusters or in the vicinity of high-density housing developments. Having regard to factors such as site location, land use compatibility and local demand for community facilities, etc, it is considered suitable to reserve these sites for G/IC uses, and 32 of these have already been allocated to relevant bureaux, departments or non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for related developments.

Besides, there are five VSP sites within "Green Belt" or "Conservation Area" zones, and one VSP site not falling within the coverage of any statutory plan, that have been recommended for rural uses (e.g. nature reserve or agricultural use) in consideration of their remote location, the surrounding tranquil rural environment, or their proximity to dense vegetation/country parks. Another 10 VSP sites that fall under ongoing planning and engineering studies or land use reviews are subject to further study of their long-term land uses. Information of these 183 VSP sites is set out at Annex 1.

Similar to the allocation arrangement for other government sites or premises, if any organisation wishes to use a VSP site for a specific G/IC use, support of the relevant policy bureau(x) must first be obtained before submitting an application to the department responsible for managing the site concerned. PlanD will advise the relevant bureau(x)/ department(s) from the district planning perspective. To this end, PlanD has uploaded the list of the reviewed VSP sites onto its official website to facilitate public inspection. The list has also been made available for inspection at PlanD's Planning Enquiry Counters and circulated to the District Offices and District Social Welfare Offices.

For effective utilisation of land resources, where feasible, the relevant departments will also identify and arrange temporary or short-term uses for the VSP as appropriate. Regarding the VSP located on government land and of which possession has been taken by LandsD, upon receipt of application from an NGO for using the VSP concerned for community, institutional or non-profit-making purposes on a short-term basis, LandsD will lease the VSP to the NGO through short-term tenancy if support has been obtained from the relevant policy bureau(x) and after consulting the relevant department(s). Organisations may refer to the relevant application procedure on LandsD's website.
 
(2) According to GPA, information on the four surplus government properties (i.e. those that are surplus to the Government's operational requirements) under GPA's management as at May 29, 2017 is set out at Annex 2.
 
(3) There are a total of 4 267 sites with an area covering approximately 3 424 hectares allocated to various bureaux and departments by way of Temporary Government Land Allocation (TGLA) for implementation of government projects or provision of services. Breakdowns of the above land allocations by District Council district and use are at Annex 3 and Annex 4 respectively. LandsD has no readily available information on TGLAs due to be returned in the coming three years, five years and 10 years. 

Ends/Wednesday, June 7, 2017
Issued at HKT 17:05

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