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LCQ19: Leasing out vacant government lands for sports purpose

Following is a question by the Hon Nathan Law and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (November 30):

With the policy support of the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the support of the Sha Tin District Council and the sponsorship from the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust, the Kitchee Foundation Limited (Kitchee) was granted a piece of 15 000-square-metre vacant government land in Shek Mun, Sha Tin under a short term tenancy (STT) of four years by the Lands Department (LandsD) in 2013. Kitchee spent $84 million for construction of the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre (JCKC) on that site for use as a football training venue. It has been reported that earlier on, the Housing Department proposed not to continue to lease out that site upon expiry of the existing lease, so as to make use of that site for the Subsidised Sale Flats Development at On Sum Street. The Chief Executive has subsequently indicated that the site will continue to be leased out on STT until Kitchee has found a new site for reprovisioning JCKC. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) of the number of public housing development projects currently under planning that involve government lands which have been leased out on STT, and set out in a table the name of the current lessee and the land use in respect of each site;

(2) given that the "Guidelines for Application for Use of Vacant Government Land that is available for Community, Institutional or Non-Profit Making Purposes on Short Term Basis" stipulates that "the application for STT must have the support of the relevant policy bureau", whether the authorities, before deciding whether or not to continue to lease out a site to the lessee on STT, will consult the lessee, LandsD and the policy bureau which gave support for the granting of the existing lease; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) as Kitchee has put in an enormous amount of resources for JCKC and opens the centre to the public during certain time periods to alleviate the shortage of football venues both in Sha Tin District and across the territory, whether the authorities will consider continuing to lease out that site to Kitchee on a tenancy of a longer term so as to promote football development in Hong Kong;

(4) as some members of the public have pointed out that the importance of retaining JCKC at the existing site is shown by the facts that Kitchee has made it clear that it does not have sufficient capital to reprovision at another site a football training centre of the same grade as that of JCKC, and Kitchee is currently implementing a number of programmes to promote football in Sha Tin District (e.g. the Professional Footballer Preparatory Program co-implemented with Yan Chai Hospital Tung Chi Ying Memorial Secondary School and the Sports Science Clinic co-established with The Chinese University of Hong Kong), whether the authorities will consider abolishing their plan of resuming that site for the construction of subsidised sale flats; and

(5) as HAB set up last year the Working Group on Sports Facilities under the Sports Commission to review the levels of demand for various types of sports facilities, of the current work progress of the Working Group; whether the Government will take into account the supply of and demand for sports facilities in the relevant districts when planning for public housing development projects?

Reply:

President,

Having consulted the Home Affairs Bureau (HAB), the Planning Department (PlanD), the Housing Department and the Lands Department (LandsD), I reply to each part of the question as follows:

(1) Developable land not yet leased or allocated for long-term development and other government land not yet planned for long-term development are in general under the management of LandsD. To optimise the utilisation of land resources, LandsD will, where practicable and appropriate, allocate such sites, to individual bureaux or departments for temporary use, lease them for various commercial purposes (e.g. fee-paying public carpark) through tender, or lease them directly to particular organisations or bodies (which have obtained policy support from relevant bureaux) for temporary use that support specific policy objectives. The above arrangements aim at making optimal use of developable land before long-term development is implemented.

In general, if land held under a short term tenancy is required to make available for long-term development, LandsD will terminate the tenancy in accordance with the tenancy conditions at an appropriate time to facilitate the programme of the long-term development.

As land tenure is subject to frequent changes in view of different situations (e.g. planning and construction progress of sites or expiry date of short term tenancy), we have not compiled statistics on public housing development projects that involve short term tenancy.
 
(2) For sites leased directly to bodies or organisations for temporary use, when handling tenancy renewal, LandsD will consult relevant bureaux and departments with a site inspection report on whether they would support renewal of the tenancy if such sites will not be required to make available for long-term development in a short period. If the relevant bureaux or departments give their policy support, the tenancy will be renewed. If the subject site is required to make available for long-term development, the Government will inform the relevant bureaux and departments, and in accordance with the tenancy conditions, inform the tenant at an appropriate time. If necessary and with the support of relevant bureaux or departments, the Government will search for a suitable site to facilitate the tenant’s reprovisioning of its facilities.
 
(3) and (4) Committed to Hong Kong's sports development, the Government has been planning and implementing various sports facilities, and taking forward various policies to support sports development (including soccer). On the other hand, housing is one of the most important livelihood concerns of the community. The Government must strive to increase land supply to meet the keen demand for housing, particularly public housing. In view of the current tight situation of demand for and supply of land, the Government has to continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to increase land supply. In addition to expanding land resources through large-scale new development areas, the Government must continue land use review of different types of land (including government land currently vacant or under short term tenancy) to optimise land utilisation.

Based on the above principle, open space and sports facilities may be provided at sites not suitable for high density development. For example, some parks and sports facilities can be located at planned ventilation corridors or visual corridors, restored landfills and other sites with restriction on land use (e.g. the rooftop of service reservoirs, sites atop tunnels of railways or roads, etc.). Where feasible and appropriate, the existing open space or sports facilities on vacant government sites or sites held under short term tenancy suitable for high density development may be relocated to those sites not suitable for high density development. This can increase developable land without reducing open space and sports facilities at the same time.  This is one of the key measures to optimise the utilisation of scarce land resources.

The current proposal is to rezone the site (not including the Jockey Club Kitchee Centre (the Centre)) on On Muk Street from open space to "Residential(A)6" for phase 1 public housing development. At present, there is no programme to rezone the Centre for phase 2 public housing development. The Government will search for a site for longer-term use by the Centre. The Centre can continue to use the existing site under short term tenancy before reprovisioning arrangements are made.

(5) The Sports Commission of HAB has set up the Working Group on Sports Facilities (the Working Group) to review the demand for various types of sports facilities and make recommendations. The Working Group has decided to conduct a consultancy study to examine the demand for and supply of various types of sports facilities in Hong Kong. The Working Group will also make reference to overseas planning standards and relevant study reports, as well as engage stakeholders. It will also consider revising the planning standards of sports facilities as set out in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines so that the planning of sports facilities could better meet the sports and training demand of the general public and the national sports associations. HAB aims to commence the consultancy study in early 2017, which is estimated to take around 15 months. It is envisaged that the Working Group would come up with preliminary recommendations on the demand for and supply of sports facilities in 2018.

In examining the suitability of a site for residential purpose, the Government will consider relevant factors, e.g. whether the site is no longer needed for the originally planned use, whether there is no concrete development plan for the originally planned use, or whether better alternative sites are available, etc. If a site is suitable for residential development, relevant government departments will, where appropriate, search for suitable site(s) for reprovisioning of the existing facilities (if any) or consider integrating the affected facilities into the proposed development. As usual, PlanD and relevant departments will closely monitor the demand for various public facilities (including sports facilities) in the district and ensure that the provision of such facilities can meet local demands in accordance with the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.

Ends/Wednesday, November 30, 2016
Issued at HKT 14:30

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