Increasing Development Density and Streamlining Land Administration
Increasing the development density of residential sites is a feasible way to enhance flat production. We are working closely with the Planning Department (PlanD) and other departments to increase the development density of unleased or unallocated residential sites as far as allowable in planning terms. Similar applications from private residential developments for approval of higher development density will also be positively considered. Meanwhile, the Lands Department (LandsD) is exploring the streamlining of land administration procedures and approval processes, with a view to expediting the related land developments.
Timely and Optimised Use of Sites
Land is a valuable resource and we should optimise the use of every single site. All policy bureaux have been requested to act decisively to optimise the use of land. Where the originally intended use is not required any more, the site should be released for housing development or other uses with more pressing needs in the community. For example, as the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) has been unable to identify suitable partners for its short term land use project in Tin Shui Wai Area 112, the Government is considering deploying the land for residential, hotel or other uses.
Relaxing or Lifting the Pok Fu Lam and Mid-Levels Moratorium
With a view to lifting development restrictions in Pok Fu Lam and the Mid-Levels, the Administration is considering relaxing or lifting the administrative moratorium currently in force to restrict new land sale or lease modification in these two areas. The Government will conduct detailed assessment of the potential impact before making a decision.
Expediting Implementation of Approved Projects
Over the past three years, the Town Planning Board has approved 57 planning applications relating to residential development. Excluding the two sites identified in the last round of review of industrial land, the remaining 55 applications involve a total area of about 130 hectares (ha) and, if all are implemented, they are expected to provide more than 45 000 flats in total. We will expedite the administrative approval procedures and take other corresponding measures to facilitate flat production with public interest in mind.
Development of Former Diamond Hill Squatter Areas and Quarry Sites development
To expedite the development of the former Diamond Hill Squatter Areas (Tai Hom Village), as well as the former Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine, former Lamma Quarry and Anderson Road Quarry, all of which do not involve land resumption, we will actively consider making use of private developers’ capacity for development to provide the infrastructure and ancillary facilities, and construct public and private residential units thereon. These four projects are expected to provide about 27 ha of residential land for construction of about 15 000 units.
Long-Term Land Supply
Reclamation outside the Victoria Harbour and Rock Cavern/Underground Space Development
We conducted the stage 1 public engagement activities for Enhancing Land Supply Strategy: Reclamation outside the Victoria Harbour and Rock Cavern Development from November 2011 to March 2012. The results of the public engagement revealed that the majority of the public generally agreed on a six-pronged land supply strategy, including reclamation outside Victoria Harbour and rock cavern development. Most of the public also agreed that more land supply would be required for Hong Kong and a land reserve should be built up for meeting unexpected demands.
On reclamation outside the Victoria Harbour, the public opinions were mixed with supporting and objecting views. Most of the objecting views came from signature campaigns organised in the local communities and focused on several illustrative reclamation sites1 that might cause greater impacts on the environment and the community. Separately, members of the public generally agreed on the eight site selection criteria with guiding principles in accordance with the social, environmental and economic benefits, and with particular emphasis on the criteria relating to the environmental, marine ecological and social impacts. The Stage 1 Public Engagement Report has been uploaded to the websites of Enhancing Land Supply Strategy under DEVB and Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD).
1 In January 2012 when the stage 1 public engagement was half-way conducted, in response to stakeholder suggestions, the government announced 25 illustrative possible reclamation sites outside Victoria Harbour which were divided into four categories comprising artificial islands, reclamation to connect islands, reclamation upon artificial or disturbed shoreline and reclamation on sites close to natural but not protected shoreline. When publicizing these sites, the government had emphasized that they did not constitute a list of selected sites confirmed for implementation but were specific examples to facilitate the public to consider the eight initial site selection criteria for reclamation.
Having regard to the criteria for selecting reclamation sites, we propose five potential near shore reclamation sites comprising Lung Kwu Tan, Ma Liu Shui, Siu Ho Wan and Sunny Bay at Lantau North, as well as Tsing Yi Southwest. The total area of these reclamation sites is about 600 ha. For Lung Kwu Tan, Siu Ho Wan and Sunny Bay, there are more convenient land and marine transport and less impacts on the environment and the community, whilst Ma Liu Shui and Tsing Yi Southwest could be implemented as extensions to the current new towns of Sha Tin and Tsuen Wan/Tsing Yi as the two reclamation sites are close to existing new towns and strategic highways.
Apart from the near shore reclamation sites, we have also considered the option of artificial islands, and reviewed the eastern waters, the central waters and the western waters of Hong Kong outside the Victoria Harbour. The eastern waters are bound by extensive shorelines of high ecological value and remote from existing infrastructure whilst the western waters are already heavily constrained by a number of major infrastructure projects. The central waters (between Hong Kong Island and Lantau) however can generally avoid shorelines of high ecological value and if artificial islands are provided with suitable transport infrastructure, they could be extended as new development areas from the current urban areas. The total area of potential reclamation sites including both the near shore reclamation and possible artificial islands in the central waters is about 2 000 to 3 000 ha which could be used for land reserve and other uses in future.
On rock cavern and underground development, we commenced in September 2012 a study on the long term strategy of cavern development in Hong Kong with a view to preparing cavern master plans and setting up policy guidelines to facilitate future cavern development. In addition to the Sha Tin Sewage Treatment Works (STSTW), we propose three potential public facilities for relocation to caverns and as pilot schemes for the next round of public consultation and further studies. These facilities are Diamond Hill Fresh Water and Salt Water Service Reservoirs, Sai Kung Sewage Treatment Works and Sham Tseng Sewage Treatment Works respectively. The three proposed rock cavern projects could release a total of about 6 ha of land in the urban area and improve the nearby living environment. For enhanced use of underground space as another source of land supply, we will further explore the potential of developing underground space in the urbanised areas of Hong Kong and conduct study on underground developments connecting existing or future buildings/facilities.
We will conduct stage 2 public engagement on the potential reclamation and rock cavern development as mentioned in the preceding paragraphs in the first quarter of 2013. Taking into account the public views collected in the stage 2 public engagement, we plan to commence technical studies including cumulative environmental impact assessment in regard to suitable reclamation and rock cavern development sites, and implement the reclamation projects as land reserve and for other uses as soon as possible.
Developing the New Territories North
Outside the existing built-up areas, country parks, conservation areas, hills etc., the New Territories North can be a major source of new land for meeting Hong Kong’s long-term needs for housing and other uses. Apart from the North East New Territories New Development Areas (NENT NDAs) and the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area (HSK NDA) under study, there are vast tracts of undeveloped land in the New Territories North (including land released from the Closed Area) that could be considered for meeting the long-term development needs of Hong Kong. While some parts of the areas (e.g. Deep Bay and nearby wetlands, woodland on Robin’s Nest and streams in Lin Ma Hang) have high ecological significance and are unsuitable for development, there are areas such as those along major transport corridors and existing degraded land which could be put to more gainful uses with the provision of infrastructure facilities. As mentioned in the 2013 Policy Address, a planning study will be undertaken by PlanD to identify further development opportunities in the New Territories North, with a view to developing a modern new town there of a similar scale as the Fanling/Sheung Shui New Town.
Increase the Supply of Commercial Land and Facilities
Increasing Commercial Land Supply
As mentioned in the 2013 Policy Address, there is a need to increase the supply of commercial land and facilities, including the conversion of existing government office buildings and “Government, Institution or Community” (G/IC) sites in Central and Wan Chai to commercial use, as well as the development of the North Commercial District on Chek Lap Kok Airport Island. The DEVB, Financial Services and the Treasury Bureau, Transport and Housing Bureau and the departments concerned will work in concert to expedite the release of these sites for suitable commercial uses. The initiatives for long-term land supply as described in section (b) above would also provide land for various commercial and industrial uses.
A dedicated Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) was set up in June 2012 initially for one year to steer, supervise, oversee and monitor the transformation of Kowloon East (KE). We have examined the preferred organisation structure of the EKEO and propose to continue its operation by four years up to end June 2017. We have consulted the Panel on Development on the proposed continuing operation of the EKEO and will proceed to seek the approval from the Establishment Subcommittee in early 2013.
Two Action Areas, with clusters of existing government facilities in KE, are identified to have potential for optimising their development to facilitate the transformation of KE. The Action Areas have potential for providing an additional office area up to 500 000 square metres in the long term. We are examining the possibility for relocating the existing government facilities, and will proceed with studies on comprehensive development of mixed and diversified uses including offices, hotel/service apartments, artist workshops and galleries, entertainment and other ancillary uses at the Action Areas to optimise their development potential.
Kai Tak Development
The Kai Tak Development (KTD) is being implemented progressively. To make better use of the opportunity provided by KTD in the transformation of KE, we will undertake a rethink on the planning parameters with a view to increasing the office and housing supply in KTD based on the principle that such a rethink would not affect the land supply in the coming five years.
Separately, the runway tip is currently planned as a tourism hub in the KTD. We propose a Kai Tak Fantasy Park at this prominent location to serve as a tourism and entertainment hub with global significance for both local people and tourists.
Overall Co-ordination of Land Supply
The Steering Committee on Housing Land Supply chaired by the Financial Secretary will be re-organised as the Steering Committee on Land Supply. Comprising heads of the relevant Bureaux and Departments, the new Committee will co-ordinate the overall plans for development and supply of land in Hong Kong for various uses, and adjust supply in response to changes in demand. The new Committee will report to CE on a regular basis.
We will continue to invest heavily in infrastructure development to promote economic growth, create employment opportunities and enhance the long-term competitiveness of Hong Kong. In addition to major capital projects, we are pressing ahead with projects of small to medium size including minor works in order to meet the diverse needs of the community. Of about $450 billion approved for the Capital Works Programme over the last five years, about 56% is devoted to the Ten Major Infrastructure Projects and the remaining 44% to other projects of varying scales.
We expect that based on the planned infrastructure programme, the capital works expenditure in the next few years will exceed $70 billion on an annual basis, creating more jobs for the construction industry.
In order to maintain a good grasp of the future manpower situation to help formulate long-term training strategy, we have collaborated with the Construction Industry Council (CIC) to commission a manpower forecast study on projecting the supply and demand of construction personnel over a 10-year horizon. Further, the CIC, as the industry coordinating body, maintains close liaison with stakeholders to gauge the latest market situation so that training plans can be adjusted as necessary to better meet the changing needs.
The Construction Workers Registration Ordinance (CWRO) provides for the registration and regulation of construction workers. Apart from ensuring the quality of construction work and raising the status of construction workers through recognition of their skill levels, the merits of the registration system will, inter alia, help make available more reliable manpower data for manpower planning and training. Following the implementation of Phase One Prohibition under CWRO in 2007, we are taking forward the implementation of the remaining phase of the Prohibition2. To address the potential difficulties encountered in implementing the remaining phase, we have identified key areas of concerns that will necessitate amendments to the Ordinance. A Task Force was set up under DEVB comprising representatives from relevant stakeholders to take forward the legislative amendments for an early implementation of the remaining phase of the Prohibition.
2 Under Phase One Prohibition, construction workers carrying out construction works at construction sites shall be registered. The registration qualification of a general construction worker is possession of a valid Construction Industry Safety Training Certificate (also known as “Green Card”). Upon the implementation of the remaining phase of the Prohibition, workers carrying out trade works shall meet the registration qualification and registered as skilled or semi-skilled workers of that particular trade, or under instruction and supervision of a registered skilled or semi-skilled worker of that particular trade.
To enhance construction safety in public works projects, we will implement a series of enhancement measures including strengthening the existing merit and demerit systems in tender assessment and performance reporting for contractors, enhancing the Pay for Safety and Environment System, reinforcing the safety training for site supervisors and strengthening the safety publicity and promotion work. We will also introduce more welfare facilities for workers in public works projects to enhance the site operating environment including provision of shelters at work places, provision of sheltered rest areas, and formalisation of the afternoon tea rest time arrangement.
Procurement System for Public Works Projects
While the massive infrastructure development programme brings to Hong Kong substantial economic and social benefits, we are mindful of the need to take anticipative actions to ensure the economical delivery of quality infrastructures. We are carrying out a strategic review of the existing procurement system for public works projects. The review aims to remove any redundant entry barriers, attracting more contractors and consultants, both local and overseas, into our construction market and enhancing the competition in tendering for the public works projects. It also aims to encourage more innovation and creativity in the design and construction of the projects with a view to their quality delivery.
In addition, procurement strategy that will encourage enhancement of productivity including a wider use of mechanisation and prefabrication for trades with anticipated labour shortage will be devised and integrated into the procurement system with a view to minimising the demand of these workers. This will cover both consultancies and contracts to foster productivity enhancements by incorporating additional contractual provisions, inviting alternative designs, revising marking schemes and introducing additional aspects in performance reports.
Security of Payment
To enhance the business operating environment of the construction industry, we are carrying out preparation work for introducing a new legislation to enhance the security of payment in construction-related contracts and to adjudicate on disputes for speedy resolution. The new legislation could enhance the cash flow of the construction supply chain and attract more overseas construction enterprises to invest and carry out business in Hong Kong thereby enhancing our infrastructure delivery capacity and increasing competition. It will also help combat wage arrears as employers would have improved their cash flow.
Promotion of Professional Services
We will strengthen our liaison with the Mainland authorities under the framework of the “Mainland and Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement” (CEPA) and make endeavour to secure mutual recognition of professional qualification for more professional disciplines of Hong Kong construction industry (including electrical engineering, building services engineering and building engineering). We will also seek to secure more market liberalisation measures to allow Hong Kong professionals, who have acquired the respective Mainland professional qualifications to register as practitioners and have their registration status recognised as enterprise qualifications for setting up enterprises in the Mainland.
Currently, Hong Kong professionals are allowed to register as practitioners and have their status recognised as enterprise qualifications in the form of a pilot scheme arrangement in Guangdong Province. We will work closely with the Mainland authorities for early review of the arrangement with a view to extending these market liberalisation measures to other parts of the Mainland. In June 2012, the Mainland Government approved Qianhai as a key development area where more special pilot scheme policies can be implemented. We will work closely with Qianhai and other concerned Mainland authorities to seek further liberalisation measures which are more favourable than the pilot scheme arrangement in Guangdong province so as to further open up the business opportunities of Qianhai development to Hong Kong professionals and enterprises.
Separately, in strategic locations of the Mainland, where the number and economic activities of a particular discipline have reached a critical mass, we will assist in liaising with the respective Mainland authorities to facilitate the establishment of a more substantive presence of the professional discipline to better support the professionals working there.
It is the Government’s policy objective to strike a proper balance between respect for private property rights and heritage conservation. The Government recognises that on the premise of respecting private property rights, we need to offer appropriate economic incentives to encourage or in exchange for private owners to conserve historic buildings in their ownership. Having reviewed the experience in the past few years, we consider that we should review the present policy on the conservation of privately-owned historic buildings so as to better meet the public’s expectations. The review will cover areas such as the extent and ways to use public resources to conserve privately-owned historic buildings, the need to set up a set of more standardised mechanism and criteria for providing economic incentives to owners, as well as whether we should advance the conservation of privately-owned historic buildings through town planning. We will also examine whether the setting up of a heritage trust will help in the conservation of privately-owned historic buildings and if so, the feasibility of setting up of a trust in the context of Hong Kong.
Enhancement of the Victoria Harbourfront
It is the Government’s long-term objective to create a world-class harbourfront that is attractive, vibrant, accessible and sustainable for all to enjoy. The Government welcomes the recommendations of the Harbourfront Commission (HC) to establish a dedicated statutory Harbourfront Authority to push ahead the design, development, operation and management of harbourfront projects in a holistic manner with a creative and innovative mindset.
We are working with HC with a view to commencing a public engagement exercise in 2013 to gauge public views on the proposal. If the proposal is widely supported by the public, the Government will provide the necessary financial support and prepare for the legislative work.
Greening, Landscaping and Tree Management
To engage stakeholders in the wider promotion of greening, landscape and tree management, the Development Bureau will launch a “Be our Greening Partner” promotion campaign in 2013. We would collaborate with local and overseas experts in the field, and partner with local communities, professional groups and non-governmental organisations in launching public engagement initiatives in greening and tree management. We would continue to engage members of the public in the community surveillance of trees. A teaching kit on greening, landscape and tree management for use by secondary schools students will be published to enhance the awareness of youngsters in these aspects.
To promote a wider adoption of skyrise greenery in both public and private sectors, a pictorial guide on suitable plant species for skyrise greening in Hong Kong will be prepared. Besides, guidelines will be prepared on the planning and design of landscape works with a view to enhancing design quality and design coherence.
In order to facilitate a systematic approach in the collection and analysis of tree information, the electronic Tree Management Information System (TMIS) has been established for use by tree management departments. The TMIS supports risk assessment and data management in a comprehensive manner.
Promote Low Carbon Building
In line with the sustainable development being implemented in KTD, we will promote KE as a green community with low carbon building design. We are taking the lead to employ low carbon and sustainable design concept in government projects. On private sector side, we will examine the possibility to specify in the lease conditions for private development to achieve Gold rating under BEAM Plus and to provide more extensive green coverage.
We will collaborate with the Hong Kong Green Building Council to promote energy saving and adoption of green measures in the building industry. To promote green buildings, we will produce a green map with green labelling system in EKEO’s website showing those buildings in KE which have obtained BEAM Plus Gold or above rating. We will also develop a green trail to encourage the general public to visit the green buildings in KE.
Art and Creative Industries
To support the development of art and creative industries so that KE will be transformed into a business area with special character, we will explore opportunities to provide suitable space for artists, art groups and creative designers in this area.
Facilitate Quality and Innovative Building Design
To promote quality and innovative building design, Buildings Department (BD) has amended the Practice Note for Authorized Persons and Registered Structural Engineers in December 2012 to allow for greater flexibility in determining site coverage and open space provision to facilitate more innovative design. With this amendment, we are looking forward to more creative building design in KE.
Total Water Management
We promulgated the total water management (TWM) strategy in 2008 which maps out the long-term strategy for a balanced demand and supply of raw water to support the sustainable development of Hong Kong. On the effort in containing demand, we have established a temporary Water Conservation Education Centre to publicise the importance of water conservation through exhibits, live demonstrations and interactive games thus enhancing knowledge of the younger generation in water resources. Separately, we plan to extend the voluntary “Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme” to cover flow controllers3 in addition to showers for bathing, water taps, washing machines and urinal equipment.
3 Flow controller is a device for attaching to water tap so as to restrict the flow of water from the tap.
In view of the good achievements of the replacement and rehabilitation (R&R) programme in reducing water mains bursting and leakage, the Water Supplies Department (WSD) is formulating strategy for embarking on a new programme for the R&R work. Due reference will be made to experience gained from the current R&R work including prioritisation of works to maximise cost effectiveness and measures to mitigate impacts of works on traffic in urban areas.
Following the completion of the Drainage Master Plans for northern and northwestern New Territories, we will start a review of the Drainage Master Plans in Sha Tin, Tai Po and Sai Kung in 2013 for completion in 2015. Further, to enhance the protection against flood risks to people living along rivers, we will commence a study to assess the risk level of rivers in rural catchment areas as well as to develop flood warning systems and mitigation measures for flood-prone rivers.
To address landslide risks due to encroachment of more urban development/redevelopment on natural terrain, we launched the Landslip Prevention and Mitigation Programme in 2010 to deal with, among others, landslide risks of natural hillside catchments. With the experience gained in related works, we will develop guidelines to facilitate the design and implementation of mitigation works for natural hillside catchments.
Enhancing Building Safety in Hong Kong
In 2013, we plan to introduce a piece of subsidiary legislation setting out the implementation details of the Signboard Control System which aims at enhancing the safety of existing unauthorised signboards.