Task Force on Land Supply

We are taking a multi-pronged approach to increase land supply.  Subject to the completion of necessary studies and statutory processes, we hope to deliver land supply capable of producing some 380 000 housing units in the short to medium term and some 220 000 housing units in the medium to long term.  Land use planning and development require sustained efforts, catering not only to imminent demands but also future needs.  According to the projections promulgated under the Hong Kong 2030+ Study to examine the strategic planning blueprint for Hong Kong, there would be an estimated shortfall of at least 1 200 hectares of land for housing, economic and Government, Institution or Community facilities over the next 30 years. 

While continuing with on-going efforts, the Government wishes to engage all sectors of the community to consider the difficult questions of land supply in an inclusive, open and rational manner.  To this end, the Chief Executive appointed the Task Force on Land Supply in September 2017 to lead a major public engagement exercise aiming at examining the pros and cons of different land supply options in a thorough and macro manner, with a view to achieving the broadest consensus.  The Task Force is examining the different land supply options and sizing up the situation.  Tentatively, the Task Force is planning to carry out public engagement from March to July 2018, and to submit its recommendations on an overall land supply strategy to the Chief Executive by the end of November 2018.

Operation Building Bright 2.0

It has all along been Government’s position that owners should take primary responsibility for the proper maintenance of their properties. That said, we recognise that some owners, though willing, may have genuine difficulties in carrying out the necessary maintenance due to their lack of financial means, technical knowledge and organisation ability, especially those of “three-nil” buildings1. Dilapidated buildings will pose immediate danger not only to inhabitants therein but also to passers-by.

For public safety considerations, we plan to roll out “Operation Building Bright (OBB) 2.0” with funding of around $3 billion covering an estimated 2 500 buildings to provide technical and financial assistance to eligible owners.  Our current thinking is that OBB 2.0 would have the following major features –

  1. to adopt a risk-based approach such that the scheme would focus on residential and composite buildings aged 50 years or more, having regard to the fact that these buildings given their age pose relatively higher building safety risks;
  2. to focus on raising the safety standards of target buildings, the subsidies should primarily be used for undertaking inspection and repairs works required under the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme (MBIS) in both the common and private areas.  For cases where the owners fail to comply with issued MBIS orders, the Buildings Department would exercise its power under statute to carry out the relevant inspections and works, and the subsidies could be used to offset the amount charged for those works in default; and
  3. to ensure that public resources would be allocated to the most needy, subsidies would only be granted to owner-occupiers who live in buildings under the target category in (a) above with average rateable values not exceeding $162,000 in the urban area and $124,000 in the New Territories (excluding Sha Tin, Kwai Tsing and Tsuen Wan, which are counted as urban areas).  It is estimated that 80% of over 5 000 target buildings aged 50 years or more would fall within the brackets of these average rateable values.  For non-elderly owner-occupiers of eligible buildings, we are planning on the basis of a subsidy level set at 80% of the cost of relevant works for common areas (subject to a ceiling of around $40,000 per flat); plus 50% of the cost of relevant works for private areas (subject to a ceiling of around $6,000 per flat).  In respect of works in the common areas, we intend to grant a higher rate of subsidy to elderly owner-occupiers, viz. 100% of the cost subject to a ceiling of around $50,000.

We propose to commission the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) as the administration agent for OBB 2.0.  Separately, URA has commenced a study on Building Rehabilitation Strategy to formulate appropriate and sustainable measures to prolong building life and reduce the pace of urban decay.  With substantial knowledge and connections culminated over the years, the URA is also developing a Building Rehabilitation Platform in conjunction with relevant professional bodies and the industry.  The platform seeks to provide one-stop comprehensive information to owners who wish to pursue building rehabilitation and is expected to be rolled out before mid-2018.

We will work out further implementation details along the direction of the above framework and consult the Panel on Development in a few months’ time.  We plan to launch the proposed scheme in the latter half of 2018.

Buildings which do not have an owners’ corporation or any residents’ organisation, and without engaging any property management company.

Harbourfront Development

Pending further deliberations on the proposal of establishing a statutory Harbourfront Authority, the Government will continue to partner with the Harbourfront Commission (HC) and implement harbourfront enhancement initiatives through a dedicated office and with dedicated funding of $500 million.  The aim is to further extend the waterfront promenade along both sides of the Victoria Harbour, beautify areas in the vicinity and improve the accessibility to the waterfront for the enjoyment of all. 

We will work in partnership with the HC to take forward this area of work, including the identification of suitable harbourfront sites for non-governmental organisations to operate community facilities or events.  In this regard, taking into account the views of the Central and Western District Council and the HC, we aim to make available a site in Kennedy Town for the running of a community garden and related uses through a short-term tenancy in the first quarter of 2018.

Revitalising Industrial Buildings as a Source of Land Supply for Economic Development

We are exploring the reactivation of the revitalisation scheme for industrial buildings, under which incentives would be offered to encourage redevelopment or wholesale conversion.  In the process, we will consider how operating space can be provided legally and safely under the scheme for certain industries with development potential (such as cultural, arts and creative industries) and for appropriate community facilities.  We will also continue to study the possibility of facilitating the conversion of the lower floors of some industrial buildings for non-industrial purposes, subject to fire safety and building safety requirements.  We will consider ways to facilitate the assembly of titles to address the issue of fragmented ownership in certain old industrial buildings, including examining the threshold of “compulsory sale” applicable to old industrial buildings.  We will also review the definition and coverage of “industrial” and “godown” uses in land leases.

Streamlining Development Control

A steering group will be formed under the Planning and Lands Branch of DEVB to explore how best to consolidate and rationalise the standards and definitions adopted by the relevant departments under the bureau (namely Buildings Department, Lands Department and Planning Department) in scrutinising development proposals, such that the approval process can be streamlined without prejudicing the relevant statutory procedures and technical requirements.  The relevant professional groups will be engaged in the process.