LCQ17: Redevelopment of urban squatter areas

Following is a question by the Hon Tang Ka-piu and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (January 18):
The 2020 Policy Address put forward the redevelopment of three urban squatter areas, namely Cha Kwo Ling Village, Ngau Chi Wan Village and Chuk Yuen United Village, into high-density public housing, and the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) would undertake the implementation of the three projects. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as the redevelopment works of such urban squatter areas are tentatively scheduled to commence in around 2025 and the relevant public housing units will be completed in phases from 2029, of the Government's measures in place to speed up the progress of land resumption, so as to strive for advancing the construction works and population intake;
(2) as there are views that the HKHS is an independent non-governmental statutory body while the Hong Kong Housing Authority (HA) is serviced by the Housing Department as its executive arm, of the criteria considered by the Government in deciding whether to choose the HKHS or the HA to develop public housing, as well as the reasons for the Government's decision to engage the HKHS, instead of the HA, to redevelop such urban squatter areas; when redeveloping such urban squatter areas, how the Government strengthens the co-ordination between the HKHS and other government departments, so as to ensure that the public facilities within and outside the projects concerned can be properly planned and constructed;
(3) as there are views pointing out that there have been serious vehicle-‍pedestrian conflicts in Ngau Chi Wan Village, and there is also a lack of covered barrier-free access facilities connecting the housing courts on Wing Ting Road with the bus stops on Lung Cheung Road and the MTR Choi Hung Station, how the authorities resolve the relevant problems when developing the public housing project at Ngau Chi Wan Village, so as to create a comfortable and safe walking environment for pedestrians; and
(4) given that some local residents have strongly requested for the provision of a library and reprovision of a community hall under the Chuk Yuen United Village project, the provision of a community hall under the Ngau Chi Wan Village project, as well as the provision of a waterfront promenade and recreation and sports facilities under the Cha Kwo Ling Village project, whether the Government will implement such proposals; if so, of the development timetable, and whether the construction of such facilities will be undertaken by the HKHS or relevant government departments; if not, the reasons for that?

The Government commenced feasibility studies soon after the announcement of the redevelopment of the three urban squatter areas (namely Cha Kwo Ling Village, Ngau Chi Wan Village and Chuk Yuen United Village) in the 2019 Policy Address. Based on the latest estimates, the three projects will altogether provide around 8 700 public housing units in phases from 2029 onwards. This will not only help address the pressing housing problem but also allow eligible squatter households to be rehoused through the compensation and rehousing arrangements, thereby improving their living environment. My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:

(1) The statutory rezoning procedures for the redevelopment project of Cha Kwo Ling Village have completed, while those for Ngau Chi Wan Village and Chuk Yuen United Village are expected to complete in the first half of this year. The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is carrying out detailed design for the land formation and infrastructure works of the three projects, and the works are expected to commence in the second half of 2023 in phases. The Lands Department (LandsD) will resume and clear the sites in accordance with the works schedule. 

The LandsD conducted the pre-clearance survey for the affected persons in Cha Kwo Ling Village in December 2021 and Ngau Chi Wan Village and Chuk Yuen United Village in June 2022 to capture the status within the development area to prepare for processing of rehousing and compensation. Recently, the LandsD has started approaching the affected persons in Cha Kwo Ling Village so as to collect their information for eligibility assessment in order to provide rehousing and compensation for eligible persons as soon as possible to facilitate their preparation for relocation, while allowing the works to commence immediately after the land is cleared. The LandsD will approach the affected persons in the other two urban squatters later this year.

In recent years, the Government has introduced measures to enhance the rehousing and compensation arrangements, including enhancing the rehousing arrangements and ex-gratia allowances (EGAs) for squatter households in mid-2018, introducing a non-means-tested rehousing option (in addition to the existing means-tested rehousing option), and relaxing the eligibility criteria and amount of EGA payable for households. These measures have been significantly improving their prospect of rehousing and approval of EGAs, while facilitating the Government's resumption work.

In general, at present land resumption and the provision of rehousing and compensation will formally commence after the Legislative Council approves the funding for the relevant works. In December last year, the Government introduced the Development (Town Planning, Lands and Works) (Miscellaneous Amendments) Bill 2022 (the Bill) into the Legislative Council. One of the proposals is to expressly provide in the law that once land resumption for a development project has been approved by the Chief Executive in Council, land resumption and the provision of rehousing and compensation may commence right afterwards without having to wait for the funding approval for the relevant works. The proposal will help advance the commencement of the compensation and rehousing procedures, thereby benefitting the affected squatter households, and allowing the works to commence immediately after obtaining funding approval. Upon the passage of the Bill, all government development projects including the above urban squatter redevelopment projects will benefit from the streamlined arrangements.

Furthermore, we will commence works in phases based on site conditions. For example, as part of Chuk Yuen United Village does not involve resumption and clearance, the relevant works will commence first.

 (2) The Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) is one of the major organisations responsible for constructing and operating public housing in Hong Kong. It is also an important partner of the Government in implementing housing policy. In view of the experience of the HKHS in areas including rehousing of residents and integrated community planning, we believe it is appropriate for the HKHS to undertake the implementation of these three relatively large-scale projects. In addition, to support the Government's development clearance exercises and redevelopment projects in urban areas, the HKHS has been assisting the Government in developing dedicated rehousing estates (DRE) to accommodate the affected residents in recent years. As we do plan to provide DRE housing units in the three projects, it is conducive to have the HKHS implement the projects. During the redevelopment process, the Development Bureau and relevant departments including the Planning Department and the CEDD will provide appropriate support to the HKHS, including co-ordinating the division of work among various departments and strengthening communication with the relevant stakeholders, so as to take forward the redevelopment work.

(3) In taking forward the redevelopment project at Ngau Chi Wan Village, the HKHS will enhance the existing barrier-free accesses from Lung Chi Path to the vicinity of MTR Choi Hung Station, including providing barrier-free facilities in line with the relevant technical guidelines and design standards in the development site, so as to ensure that residents of the existing residential estates along Wing Ting Road can enjoy convenient and easy access to and from the bus stops on Lung Cheung Road and MTR Choi Hung Station, creating a more comfortable walking environment for pedestrians.

(4) To meet the needs of the increased population and respond to district requests, the three redevelopment projects mentioned above will provide a range of social welfare and community facilities. In addition, appropriate recreation facilities and local open space will be provided in accordance with the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines. The HKHS will be responsible for the design and construction of the above public housing developments, including the "Government, Institution and Community" facilities therein. Upon completion, the facilities concerned will be owned, operated and managed by the Government.

At the request of the relevant departments, the HKHS has planned to provide a community hall in each of the public housing developments at Chuk Yuen United Village and Ngau Chi Wan Village respectively. Construction of the community halls will be completed in phases from 2029 onwards following the above two developments. As there are already a total of two district libraries, four small libraries and three mobile library stops in Wong Tai Sin District where the Chuk Yuen Village Development is located, the Government has no plans to provide additional library facilities in the district for the time being.

The HKHS has planned to provide various recreation facilities and local open space at the site of the public housing development at Cha Kwo Ling Village. The Government also plans to provide a sports centre and other community facilities next to Fan Wa Street near the public housing site and strive to complete the construction works in the same period as the Cha Kwo Ling Village Development, which is expected to start population intake by phases from 2031 onwards.
The public waterfront promenade at Cha Kwo Ling is not under the scope of development of Cha Kwo Ling Village. It is part of the main works of the Vocational Training Council (VTC)'s new campus development plan at Cha Kwo Ling, and one of Government's harbourfront works projects. Discussion among the VTC, its consultants and relevant government departments on preparatory work including sketch design is underway. The works for the harbourfront promenade are expected to complete in phases by 2030. There will be suitable pedestrian connection between the Cha Kwo Ling Village Development and the future waterfront promenade, such that residents can visit the promenade conveniently. In addition, in accordance with an incremental approach and to tie in with the developments of adjacent river revitalisation as well as Kwun Tong Sewage Pumping Station (KTSPS), the Drainage Services Department will beautify the works area fronting KTSPS, which is about 130 metres long with area of about 7 000 square metres, to facilitate early opening of the site for public enjoyment. The works are targeted for completion within 2023.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Issued at HKT 15:05