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LCQ18: Public facilities in private developments

Following is a question by the Hon Frederick Fung Kin-kee and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 15):

Question:

I have recently received a complaint from the owners of Lai Bo Garden in Sham Shui Po, pointing out that Lai Bo Garden was completed in 1991 and the Cheong Wah Street Refuse Collection Point on the ground floor of Lai Bo Garden is one of the Government facilities attached to the housing estate when it was built by the developer, and according to the Deed of Mutual Covenant, the refuse collection point is owned by the Financial Secretary Incorporated (which is represented by the Government Property Agency) and the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department is responsible for its day-to-day management.  The owners have also pointed out that the public refuse collection point is poorly managed, resulting in the estate's appalling conditions and causing long-term nuisance to the residents.  Further, the drains and manholes are often blocked by food waste from the refuse collection point and need to be repaired, but the authorities' share of the management and repair expenses is exceedingly small.  In connection with the arrangement of attaching obnoxious community facilities to private residential developments, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the current number of private residential developments in Hong Kong with obnoxious community facilities attached; of the number and contents of the complaints about such facilities received by the authorities in the past five years, and how the authorities had followed up these complaints; 

(b) in respect of the aforesaid concern of the residents of Lai Bo Garden, whether the authorities have any improvement measures to alleviate the refuse collection point's adverse impact on the residents and environmental hygiene; if they have, whether the authorities have assessed the effectiveness of such improvement measures; in addition to respecting the spirit of contract, whether the authorities can be reasonable and sympathetic and consider sharing the required expenses (including the additional costs for clearing the blockage in drains and manholes), based on the management and maintenance needs arising from the operation of the refuse collection point; if they will not, of the reasons for that;

(c) as the refuse collection point is already 20 years old and its design outdated, and the completion of a number of new buildings in the district will aggravate the burden on the refuse collection point, whether the authorities will consider finding other sites for building a new refuse collection point to mitigate the current impact of the refuse collection point on the residents; if they will not, of the reasons for that; and

(d) whether the authorities will conduct an overall review of the practice of attaching obnoxious community facilities to private residential developments; whether the authorities will, in balancing the needs of the community and the impact on residents, relocate the current obnoxious community facilities within the areas of residential buildings to non-residential developments as far as possible, so as to minimise the impact of these facilities on the community?

Reply:

President,

The incorporation of public facilities in private developments for public use is intended to achieve integrated design, optimisation of land use, as well as to bring forward the completion of some public facilities to serve public need, or to better match the envisaged increase in population or pedestrian flow brought by the private developments.  These facilities can broadly be categorised into:

(i) Government, Institution and Community (GIC) facilities, such as community halls, elderly centres, nurseries, public refuse collection points (RCPs), etc.;

(ii) public open space;

(iii) public transport terminus; and

(iv) public access.

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

(a) The Government does not classify public facilities as "obnoxious" and "non-obnoxious".  Public RCPs were mentioned in the question.  According to the information provided by the Food and Health Bureau (FHB), there are eight public RCPs located within private residential developments.  Over the past five years, we have received 13 environmental hygiene related complaints on five of the said RCPs whilst no complaint has been received on the remaining three. The Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has investigated the concerned complaints and taken different measures according to its findings, such as stepping up cleansing and rescheduling the removal of refuse collected by refuse collection vehicles at the RCPs, etc.

(b) and (c) According to the information by the FHB, the Cheung Wah Street RCP is managed by the FEHD and its management fee is also borne by the FEHD.  The RCP is equipped with a number of facilities, including a ventilation system with activated carbon filter to ensure the proper treatment of exhaust air emissions.  Also, the FEHD has taken measures to maintain the clean and hygienic condition there, such as removing the refuse collected and cleansing the RCP on a daily basis.  Recently, the FEHD has enhanced its monitoring efforts of the RCP by arranging its staff to conduct surprise inspections in order to ensure that there will not be any environmental hygiene problems.  The results of the routine and surprise inspections in the past two months show that the sanitary condition of the RCP has been satisfactory.

The relevant lease conditions require the developer of Lai Bo Garden to construct and provide a RCP (i.e. the Cheung Wah Street RCP) in its private development (i.e. Lai Bo Garden), and stipulate the detailed information (e.g. location, area as well as building and building services requirements) of the RCP, management and maintenance responsibilities of the Government facility as well as the basis of apportioning the relevant costs.

Before completion of the development, the developer drafted the Deed of Mutual Covenant (DMC) according to the lease conditions and the relevant guidelines to stipulate the rights and obligations of owners (including The Financial Secretary Incorporated (FSI) which owns the RCP) and the financial management arrangements for the building, which include the amount payable by the owners for management and maintenance of the property/facility.

After completion of the development, the developer assigned the ownership of the RCP to the FSI and handed it over to the FEHD for use and management.  The Government Property Agency (GPA), on behalf of the Financial Secretary, exercises the owner's rights and fulfils the owner's obligations as delegated.

The Government has been bearing the management and maintenance costs of the common areas and facilities of Lai Bo Garden.  The DMC of Lai Bo Garden provides that the Government should pay its share of the management and maintenance costs of the building's common areas and facilities actually enjoyed by the Government by reference to its management shares.  The present management and maintenance costs paid by the Government in respect of the Government properties/facilities in Lai Bo Garden are calculated by the management company in accordance with the relevant provisions in the DMC of Lai Bo Garden.  The Government will continue to abide by the relevant DMC provisions.

The Government considers it necessary to retain the RCP as it provides refuse collection services for the densely populated community in the vicinity.

(d) The Development Bureau has completed the review on the policy on the provision of public facilities in private developments and during the process reported its findings to the Panel on Development of the Legislative Council on December 8, 2008, May 26, 2009 and January 26, 2010.  Based on the review findings, we consider that the policy on requiring developers to incorporate public facilities in private developments for public use is based on sound considerations.  It provides for better planning, enables the provision of needed facilities to the public in a timely manner and optimises the use of limited land.  The public facilities provided under this policy are not classified as "obnoxious" and "non-obnoxious", but we trust that the concerned departments responsible for the management of these facilities will continue to improve their management work and properly address the impact of these facilities on the neighbouring environment and the residents within the private developments.


Ends/Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Issued at HKT 14:17

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