The work of DEVB will mainly contribute to the two themes of "Developing the Infrastructure for Economic Growth" and "Quality City And Quality Life". We will also strive to enhance public governance and improve services to the public. An extract of all new and ongoing initiatives under DEVB as contained in the 2008-09 Policy Agenda Booklet is at Annex 1. Major items are highlighted in the paragraphs below.
Members may recall that when we briefed this Panel on 23 October 2007, the concern was on the low level of Capital Works Programme (CWP) expenditure. We then explained that CWP expenditure started to decline from its peak of $31.4 billion in 2004-05 because a number of planned large scale projects such as Kai Tak Development, Central-Wan Chai Bypass, and Wan Chai Development Phase II had not commenced as scheduled, as they required more time for completing the statutory procedures and for undertaking the needed preparatory work including public engagement. The actual CWP expenditure in 2007-08 was $20.5 billion, which was the lowest in the past ten years.
To fulfil the CE's pledge of pressing ahead with infrastructure, various works departments under the steer of DEVB have made every effort to expedite the progress of on-going projects as well as implementation of minor works. As a result of these concerted efforts, the spending performance of CWP up to end August 2008 is satisfactory. We now project total spending for 2008-09 to reach about $23 billion, which is $1.2 billion more than the original estimate of $21.8 billion in the 2008-09 Estimates, or 12% more than the spending in 2007-08. While works departments are compiling the estimated cashflow expenditure of the various projects in the coming year for the purpose of the 2009-10 Draft Estimates, we are expecting a larger magnitude in the growth of capital works expenditure in 2009-10.
During the past year, the Administration has pressed ahead with the planning of the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects (10 Major Projects) announced by the CE in the 2007-08 Policy Address. Substantial jobs will be created in the construction sector during the construction stage. Among the 10 Major Projects, three of them, namely New Development Areas, Lok Ma Chau Loop and Kai Tak Development are spearheaded by DEVB. We would like to update Members on these three projects -
We commissioned, in June 2008, "the North East New Territories New Development Areas (NDAs) Planning and Engineering Study", which will formulate a development plan to guide implementation of the NDAs, namely the three-in-one covering Kwu Tung North, Fanling North and Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling. The current target is to provide the necessary infrastructure facilities to enable the first population intake to take place in 2019. We will conduct Stage 1 Public Engagement of the Study later this year and we aim to complete the North East New Territories NDA Study by 2011.
As regards the other NDA at Hung Shui Kiu (HSK), it is the subject of a preliminary study on broad implications of the planned railway infrastructure under way. The study will provide input to the HSK NDA planning and engineering study, which we plan to commence in mid-2009 and complete by 2012. However, it should be noted that these NDAs are planned for population growth in the next decade and we should allow the planning work to proceed as scheduled, instead of accelerating them simply for the purpose of increasing capital works expenditure.
We have set up a joint task force with the Shenzhen Municipal Government, namely the "Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development" (JTF), to accelerate studies on the planning and development in respect of the areas in proximity to the boundary. At its meeting held on 18 September 2008, the JTF was briefed on the findings of the public engagement exercise undertaken separately in Hong Kong and Shenzhen in June/July 2008 to collect community views on the possible future land uses for the Lok Ma Chau Loop.
As indicated by the CE in the Policy Address, the possible land uses that are supported by respondents in both Hong Kong and Shenzhen are tertiary education, hi-tech R and D and creative industries. On this basis, the two governments will conduct more in-depth discussions with major stakeholders in the coming months, with a view to deciding on the specific land uses and the development model. We will be seeking funding approval from the Legislative Council (LegCo) later this year to embark on a comprehensive planning study around the middle of next year.
The Kai Tak Development has entered the implementation stage. Following the decision that the Government will fund the cruise terminal, we have started the preparatory work for the cruise terminal berths and the associated site formation works. We aim to start detailed design and construction of these works in early 2009 and early 2010 respectively. This will enable commissioning of the first berth for cruise vessels by mid-2013. As for the cruise terminal building, we will proceed with its design and construction in parallel to shorten the implementation timetable. We schedule to complete the full-fledged building in early 2015. We understand the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau will separately brief Members on the cruise terminal development.
On a separate front, we are finalising the design of the infrastructure to serve the public housing development and the Kai Tak Government Offices. We plan to start construction works on site in mid-2009 for completion in early 2013. Given the size and scale of the Kai Tak Development, DEVB is overseeing its implementation and has drawn up several works packages to ensure smooth and efficient delivery. Following LegCo approval of one works item last year, we intend to seek funding for another five works items at a total cost of some $2.4 billion in the coming year.
Apart from the 10 Major Projects, good progress has also been made on the planning of other large scale projects. For instance, we will proceed jointly with the Shenzhen Government on the Liantang/Heung Yuen Wai boundary control point project, which will bring significant improvements to cross-boundary traffic upon its completion in 2018. We have set up a dedicated working group under the Hong Kong-Shenzhen Joint Task Force on Boundary District Development to oversee the implementation of this project. We will shortly seek LegCo's funding support to commence an investigation and preliminary design study. Other large scale projects under active planning include -
The commencement of these projects will bring CWP spending to higher levels in future years.
With the advent of an era of rapidly rising CWP expenditure, we need to assure we have the required delivery capacity. This includes general labour supply in the construction industry, as well as professional and supervisory staff within the Government or supplied through consultants.
On labour situation in the construction industry, the unemployment rate is still 6.7% in the most recent quarter (May to July 2008). While the enlarged CWP will provide more job opportunities, we need to look ahead to examine any skills mismatch (e.g. in terms of the types of workers required for the various types of jobs) that may arise and enhance training where needed. We will also have to address other problems such as ageing in the construction work force as well as the reluctance of the younger generation to join the industry. In this regard, the Construction Industry Council is conducting a study to assess and forecast the supply and demand of construction workers and supervisors / technicians in the coming years. DEVB has commissioned a similar study focusing on construction professionals. Both studies have included consultations with construction industry stakeholders. The results of the studies will be provided to relevant parties including the Development Panel, if necessary, with a view to devising a strategy which best meets our future needs.
As regards the delivery capacity of the Government itself, DEVB is assessing the situation. Our preliminary view is that difficulties or delays often happen at the pre-construction stage and there is a need to enhance strategic co-ordination at the higher level so that teething problems can be ironed out speedily and projects can be implemented in the desired time frame to meet the needs of the community. In doing so, we will first look into the possibility of redeployment of existing resources. Should additional resources be required, we will seek approval from the LegCo in accordance with the established mechanism.
Victoria Harbour is an important natural asset shared by all the people of Hong Kong. In response to increasing public aspirations for enhancement of the Harbour for public enjoyment and growing concern over harbourfront development, we will commit additional resources to strengthen our policy on harbourfront planning and implementation of harbourfront enhancement initiatives. Specifically, we will -
In the coming years, heritage conservation will continue to be a priority for DEVB. Since the announcement of the new heritage conservation policy and a package of initiatives to promote heritage conservation in the 2007-08 Policy Address, the Government has established the Commissioner for Heritage's Office and made good progress on various fronts.
In the Government domain -
In the private domain -
With the Commissioner for Heritage's Office serving as a focal point, we have stepped up efforts on public engagement and discussions on various heritage projects. We have launched a publicity and public awareness campaign from January to May 2008 and activities organised included exhibitions, seminars, photo competition, etc. We have also set up a dedicated heritage website (www.heritage.gov.hk) and published a bimonthly newsletter "活化@Heritage" to enhance effective communication with the public at large.
In the coming year, we will take forward the following major heritage conservation and revitalisation projects -
In the past year, we have conducted various studies on the site including its historical significance, development potential and constraints and the ambience of the area. We have launched a public engagement exercise from February to May 2008 and received valuable views on how to put the site to best use. In his Policy Address, the CE has announced that we will remove the site from commercial sale once and for all and will involve the public in finding the best approach to revitalise the site for education and creative industries uses while recognising its historical significance. We intend to launch an expression of interest exercise/open design competition next year to invite private organisations, professionals and prospective operations to submit creative proposals on how best to revitalise the site;
Following a six-month public engagement exercise from October 2007 to April 2008 conducted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC), the Administration has entered into a partnership with HKJC to take forward the conservation and revitalisation of the Central Police Station Compound project based on a number of parameters. HKJC is now working with its architects to come up with a revised conceptual design of the proposed new structure which will address the various concerns raised during the public engagement process. The project will need to go through statutory procedures, including those under the Town Planning Ordinance and the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance and the public will have opportunities to express their views; and
We will also explore various options of making best use of historic buildings considered to have good commercial potential. In particular, we are planning to invite Expression of Interest by private operators for the adaptive re-use of Haw Par Mansion. A possibility is to make use of the Mansion for wine-related facilities to help promote the development of wine industry in Hong Kong.
We are committed to addressing public concerns over building bulk and height on one hand and the benefits of having green and sustainable building features, building design and building standard on the other. The Government departments concerned have reviewed in detail the present arrangements for the provision of green building features as well as the need for a cap on the gross floor area (GFA) concessions granted under the Buildings Ordinance. We have conducted a number of surveys and studies to assess the effectiveness of the existing GFA concessions and to gauge public views on policies on green features. We have also commissioned a consultancy study to advise on sustainable building design features that would enhance the urban living space environment. As the subjects are complex and have wide ranging implications on Hong Kong's built environment, we consider it necessary to engage the public before introducing any changes. We plan to collaborate with the Sustainable Development Council to conduct this public engagement process to identify the preferred options.
In view of recent concerns over the provision, management and operation of public facilities in private developments, particularly open spaces, DEVB is reviewing the policy and examining the implementation issues in the light of public views received. We intend to explore a mechanism under which the location, layout, design and landscaping of public open space would be able to meet the public's aspirations as much as possible, and means for ensuring that the owners' obligations in terms of managing and maintaining such facilities and opening them for public use are fairly and effectively discharged.
Meanwhile, to enhance transparency and public accessibility to these public facilities in private developments, DEVB has released a second list of private developments which are required under a land lease or a deed of dedication to provide and manage various public facilities. We will publish updated lists covering earlier or new developments as and when ready.