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LCQ5: Existing land use and planned land use

Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 1):

Question:

At its meeting on February 13, 2009, the Metro Planning Committee (Committee) under the Town Planning Board approved an application filed by the owner of QRE Plaza, which is located at No. 196-206 Queen’s Road East, Wan Chai, to rezone the site on the relevant Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) where the aforesaid property is located from open space to commercial use, so as to reflect the existing use of that site.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether it has assessed if the Committee’s consent to the amendment to the planned use based on the existing use of the site is an isolated case or implies that the Committee has already changed the criteria it adopts for vetting and approving amendments to the planned use of sites;

(b) of the current number of sites in Hong Kong the existing use of which is not consistent with the planned use as set out in the relevant OZP, as well as the relevant details; and

(c) whether it will consider requesting the owners of the sites mentioned in (b) to apply to the Committee for amendment to the planned use of the sites concerned in accordance with the existing use, and whether the Government will review all the OZPs of Hong Kong after the amendments concerned are made; if so, of the details; if not, how the Government will deal with the problem of discrepancies between existing land use and planned land use?

Reply:

President,

In accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance (the Ordinance), Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) are prepared to specify the planning intentions of various land use zones and for the exercise of development control through stipulating the permitted land uses and incorporating development parameters of certain sites.  It is currently stipulated on OZPs that any new development or any material change of use of the existing buildings on any land must comply with the requirements of OZPs or prior permission of the Town Planning Board (TPB) shall be obtained under section 16 of the Ordinance.

My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) The Planning Department will, from time to time, review the broad land use framework of various OZPs to take into account the latest developments and changes in planning circumstances of the area.  Consideration will therefore be also given to reflect on the OZPs any development completed in accordance with the planning permission granted under section 16 of the Ordinance.  If the relevant land use zoning is no longer consistent with the existing use, the Planning Department will, depending on the circumstances, propose suitable zoning amendments to the OZP.

As far as the land use planning of QRE Plaza (the application site) is concerned, planning permission (under Application No. A/H5/64P) for a proposed office building was granted by TPB back in 1981 when the application site was zoned “Residential (Group A)” on the then Wan Chai OZP.  In 1994, the site was rezoned “Open Space”.  In 2004, the landowner decided to proceed with the approved office building development and the building was completed in November 2007.  The recent approval of the rezoning application concerning QRE Plaza aims merely to reflect the completed development for which planning permission had been granted.  This is not a special case and is in line with TPB’s established practice.

(b) There are no available statistics on the number of sites where the development completed in accordance with planning permission granted under section 16 was inconsistent with the planned use of the site.

(c) As mentioned in the reply to part (a) above, the broad land use framework of various OZPs will be reviewed from time to time to take into account the latest developments and changes in planning circumstances of the area, including the consideration to reflect on the OZPs any completed developments for which planning permission had been granted under section 16 of the Ordinance.  Whether and when a zoning amendment would be made depend on the specific circumstances of each case.

Ends/Wednesday, April 1, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:09

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