Land Supply tops the policy agenda of the current-term Government. The Task Force on Land Supply (Task Force) established in September 2017 had conducted an extensive five-month public engagement exercise on options to increase land supply and submitted the report to the Government in December 2018. In February this year, the Government announced its full acceptance of the Task Force’s recommendations that encompass a more robust and visionary land supply strategy to sustain and significantly increase land supply.
Whilst we press ahead with various ongoing land supply measures, we are taking active steps to follow up the eight land supply priority options as recommended by the Task Force. Among these, we have secured funding for the first stage of the main works of Kwu Tung North (KTN)/Fanling North (FLN) New Development Area (NDA) in May 2019, and relevant land resumption and works have commenced. Also in May 2019, we received the support of the Public Works Subcommittee of the Legislative Council (LegCo) for the studies related to artificial islands in the Central Water and are awaiting LegCo Finance Committee’s approval to the funding application. In respect of the suggestion on partial resumption of the Fanling Golf Course site mainly for public housing development, we have commenced the study to ascertain the highest flat yield attainable in the short to medium term and the relevant supporting infrastructure, as well as to conduct technical assessments on traffic and environmental impact, etc. To expedite the implementation of the New Territories North (NTN) NDA, the study on the first phase development covering the development node at San Tin/Lok Ma Chau has also started. The two aforementioned studies are expected to be completed in early 2021.
Given the acute land and housing shortage, we must increase land supply with more intense efforts and faster pace, through in particular Government-led development that could create land for public housing in the short to medium term. To this end, we will expedite our planning work to identify sites with development potential to support public housing development. We will take the lead in the planning and development of land and infrastructure, including invoking the Lands Resumption Ordinance (Cap. 124) and other applicable ordinances 1 to resume the private land involved wholly for development of public housing (including public rental housing (PRH), Green Form Subsidised Home Ownership Scheme (GSH) and Home Ownership Scheme (HOS)), Starter Homes (SH) and related facilities.
In this regard, we will intensify the Government-led planning efforts in the following three aspects and compress the time needed for taking forward the studies and other subsequent processes -
The Development Bureau has drawn up the details of the Land Sharing Pilot Scheme (LSPS) along the policy direction outlined in the Policy Address last year. With the target of accepting applications in early 2020, we will gauge the views of stakeholders in the coming few months, including submission of our detailed proposal for discussion by the LegCo Panel on Development in November. LSPS is aimed at tapping the market force in planning and construction, with a view to releasing as soon as possible private lots with consolidated ownership but not yet covered by Government’s development studies supporting the use of land intended for public purposes, so as to speed up short- and medium-term housing supply. The Government will facilitate infrastructural improvement to allow higher development intensity and prescribe that at least 70% of the additional gross floor area (GFA) gained should be allocated for public housing or SH as intended by the Government. As such, land owners have to carve out part of their land and hand them over to the Government for the said housing development, while the remainder of the site can be retained for private housing development. The project in question should be fairly sizeable and capable of delivering an additional GFA of 50 000 square metres and a minimum of 1 000 additional housing units. The land owners concerned will be responsible for providing infrastructure and other community facilities necessary to support the housing development projects, and the associated construction cost will be deducted from the land premium
The LSPS is a time-limited scheme receiving applications over a period of three years and the applications to be approved should together involve no more than 150 hectares of private land. Besides, to strike a balance between development and conservation, country parks and six environmentally sensitive zonings 3, as well as areas covered by the list of 12 priority sites for enhanced conservation under the New Nature Conservation Policy 4 , will not be eligible for the LSPS. Also, applications involving sites overlapping with the area covered by Government’s completed, ongoing or about-to-commence development studies supporting the use of land intended for public purposes will not be accepted.
We will adopt a fair, robust and transparent vetting and approval mechanism, under which applications are subject to thorough examination by a multi-disciplinary team of government officers. Also, a newly established Panel of Advisors comprising members with credibility in society will provide advice. After that, the applications will be submitted to the Chief Executive in Council for approval. All town planning and other statutory and administrative procedures will continue to apply, including the requirement for land owners to pay the land premium at full market value for the private housing development and ancillary commercial facilities. To speed up development, lease modification (including premium negotiation) has to be completed within 18 months after completion of the statutory planning process.
As custodian of the “Government, Institution or Community” (GIC) sites, the Government should strive to optimise the use of these sites. We will review over 300 GIC sites involving a total area of more than 300 hectares currently earmarked for standalone public facilities, and put forward concrete proposals for sites with no development plan, including developing multi-purpose public facility buildings under the “single site, multiple use” model, developing residential use and public facilities under a mixed development mode, or retaining them for specific government facilities. We will give priority to reviewing sites reserved for education, cultural and sports and social welfare facilities, community halls, public transport interchange etc., which take up about half of the areas of all the reviewed sites, with a view to completing this part of the review by mid-2021.
Meanwhile, to assist non‑governmental organisations to optimise their under utilised sites, we will facilitate the redevelopment of the low rise buildings on these sites by providing support and introducing mixed uses including possibly residential, education and welfare uses. This will not only provide modernised facilities, but also help to increase the supply of various types of housing, including elderly housing, youth hostels or transitional housing, etc.
We are progressively taking forward various short and medium to long term initiatives about development and conservation of Lantau. While increasing land supply for housing and economic development, we in parallel enhance conservation efforts and improve the leisure and entertaining facilities of Lantau.
For short-term measures, we will continue to implement the Tung Chung New Town Extension project on North Lantau. The relevant reclamation works are being carried out as scheduled and the first parcel of land is anticipated to be available for public housing development in early next year. We will take Tung Chung New Town Extension as a pilot to promote the concepts of smart, green and resilience city. The relevant studies and design work are underway.
The Outline Zoning Plan in relation to the Siu Ho Wan Depot Site topside development was approved in February this year. The site is estimated to provide no less than 14 000 residential units in the medium to long run. We will continue to follow up with the MTR Corporation Limited on various details of this topside development involving the development of a new community with subsidised and private housing as well as community facilities. Planning permission will be sought from the Town Planning Board in due course.
The Airport Authority Hong Kong (AAHK) has accepted our invitation, studying the development of airport-related businesses on the topside of the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge. It is anticipated that the study will be completed in end 2020. Upon AAHK’s submission of the development proposal, the Government will consider the relevant suggestions thoroughly with a view to formulating the planning and use of the topside development of the Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island.
We treasure the natural and rural environment of Lantau to a great extent, as well as its unique ecology, history and culture. We will staunchly adhere to the planning principle of “Development in the North; Conservation for the South”. In taking forward infrastructure and development projects, we will in parallel follow the policy of “Conservation to precede Development”, making strenuous efforts in conservation. We are conducting an ecological study that involves Pui O, Shui Hau, Tai O and other sites with ecological value, which will be completed in the first quarter of 2020. Currently we are consolidating the survey outcomes of the study. The next phase of the study will focus on evaluating the existing ecological impacts within these areas and formulating appropriate and feasible conservation proposals. Besides, the Environment and Conservation Fund has approved funding to support 11 environmental education and community action projects with the theme of nature conservation in South Lantau.
To further enhance the resources and effectiveness of conservation efforts, we have earmarked $1 billion for setting up the Lantau Conservation Fund (LCF) to promote conservation together with the community and pursue minor local improvement works for Lantau. We plan to establish the LCF next year; and we have obtained the support of the LegCo Panel on Development in March this year. Our current plan is to include the proposed new commitment concerning the part of the LCF related to conservation projects (i.e. $500 million) in the 2020-21 draft Estimates for LegCo’s approval in the context of the Appropriation Bill 2020. We have also earmarked $500 million for minor local improvement works to support conservation and livelihood improvement related work. The relevant projects will be submitted to the LegCo in the related Block Allocations under the Capital Works Reserve Fund.
On the leisure and entertainment front, we plan to commission the study on the Lantau Trails and Recreation Plan this year and implement relevant facilities in phases. The plan includes enhancement of the network of walking trails at Lantau to link up heritage, ecological and recreational hotspots with a view to offering diversified sustainable leisure experience to the public as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle. As regards promotion of water transport, the ferry operator has been implementing a trial scheme to increase the ferry schedules of the route to/from Tai O during weekends and public holidays. We are also exploring the feasibility to improve the pier facilities at Lantau.
In terms of medium-to-long term measures, the development of artificial islands in the Central Waters can create a vast area of new land for comprehensive planning while the associated transport infrastructure can increase the capacity of the overall Hong Kong traffic network. Currently some members of the community have concerns about the development of the artificial islands, and we will thus continue our efforts in explaining the project objectives and direction of the technical studies to the general public. We will establish platforms for various professionals and youths to take part in the formulation of measures in the areas of urban design, land use and smart, environment-friendly and sustainable development regarding the development of the artificial islands. We will continue to seek funding approval for the related study from the LegCo Finance Committee. Besides, we plan to seek funding from the LegCo so as to kick start the planning study on the development of reclamation at Lung Kwu Tan and the coastal area at Tuen Mun West as well as the engineering study on Road P1 (Tai Ho – Sunny Bay Section).
To fully utilise the permissible plot ratios of land and to increase housing supply, we have invited the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to identify one to two clusters of Civil Servants’ Co-operative Building Society Scheme (CBS) lots suitable for high-density development for redevelopment as a pilot project, with a view to bringing planning and social gains and creating positive impacts on the local community. In this connection, URA has already identified two clusters of sites, involving more than 30 CBS buildings in Kowloon City suitable for redevelopment as a pilot project. URA plans to announce early next year the commencement of the redevelopment of these buildings to maximise the development potential of the concerned sites. Some of the resumed land will be earmarked for public housing development, and the total number of public and private flats after redevelopment is estimated to be about five times the existing number.
In 2018, the Government invited URA to assign its redevelopment project at Ma Tau Wai Road as a “Starter Homes” (SH) pilot project (eResidence comprising 450 flats which was subsequently open for application in January 2019). Given the successful implementation of its first SH project (with enthusiastic response to eResidence with an oversubscription of 46 times), the Government will entrust URA with a new mission, inviting URA to provide more SH or other types of SSFs in its redevelopment projects. The Government will provide resources as appropriate to enable URA to continue carrying out its urban renewal mission.
Our efforts on streamlining development control continue. The first and second batches of initiatives, covering building height restriction, landscape requirement and various requirements under the Sustainable Building Design Guidelines etc. have already taken effect. Details could be found on the various updated practice notes or new joint practice notes uploaded by departments.
1 Such as the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance (Cap. 370)
2 Figure according to the profile study on brownfield sites in the New Territories to be announced by PlanD. We will upload the complete study report to PlanD’s website in early November, and brief the Panel on Development about the survey findings at the meeting in November.
3 The six environmentally sensitive zonings include Conservation Area, Coastal Protection Area, Other Specified Uses (OU) (Comprehensive Development to include Wetland Restoration Area), OU(Comprehensive Development and Wetland Enhancement Area), OU(Comprehensive Development and Wetland Protection Area) and Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
4 The 12 priority sites are: Ramsar Site; Sha Lo Tung; Tai Ho; Fung Yuen; Luk Keng Marsh; Mui Tsz Lam and Mau Ping; Wu Kau Tang; Long Valley and Ho Sheung Heung; Deep Bay Wetland outside Ramar Site; Cheung Sheung; Yung Shue O; and Sham Chung.