A Better Planned City with Greener Buildings

The goal of the planning and lands team in the Special Administrative Region Government is to make Hong Kong a better planned city, with a pleasant living environment and safer, better maintained and "greener" buildings.

The Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu, made the statement at a press conference today (October 18) when he explained the policy initiatives in the planning and lands area, as outlined in the Bureau's Policy Objective booklet entitled "Developing Hong Kong".

"As regards land use and land supply strategy, we have to plan for the future needs of our growing population and meet their aspirations for a better environment and improved standards of living," Mr Siu said.

"We will apply the principle of sustainable development when we design the next generation of new towns," he said.

Mr Siu pointed out that the Government was conducting a number of major planning studies, including the recently announced Western District Development; the Metroplan Study; the Development Strategy for Southeast New Territories and Southwest New Territories; the West Kowloon Reclamation Development; and the Aberdeen Harbour Focus Study.

Through the study "Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy", the Government will develop a long-term land use, transport and environmental strategy, with a wider geographical scope and a range of development options.

"As regards urban renewal, we need to examine how best to tackle the problem of urban decay in our older urban areas," Mr Siu added.

To speed up the regeneration of our older urban areas, the Urban Renewal Authority will be set up early next year. The Authority will implement a 20-year urban renewal programme.

"Our plan for the next 20 years is to complete 200 urban renewal priority projects, including the redevelopment of 1,400 dilapidated buildings; rehousing 16,000 households; and providing 50,000 square metres of open space and 70,000 square metres of community facilities," he said.

"Our strategy is to renew older built-up areas by redevelopment, rehabilitation and conservation. Only dilapidated buildings will be redeveloped. We will try to rehabilitate buildings so as to reduce the degree of dislocation to residents in older areas. We will try to conserve our heritage by preserving buildings of historical, cultural and architectural interest."

"We shall adopt a people-oriented approach in carrying out urban renewal. Our guiding principles are that we will provide fair and reasonable compensation for property owners; arrange proper rehousing for tenants, and improve the local community by replanning and restructuring."

"For existing buildings, owners need to take up their responsibility for maintaining their own buildings. Government will assist and enhance support for them," he said.

The Task Force on building safety and maintenance has been studying ways to promote timely maintenance, to tackle unauthorized building works and to control signboards. The aims are to ensure public safety, arrest dilapidation and prevent premature aging of buildings.

The Buildings Department will continue to step up action against unauthorized building works and to remove risk from illegal rooftop structures, particularly those on single-staircase buildings.

The Task Force will be going first to the relevant LegCo Panels for views and in parallel consulting professional institutes and other bodies concerned in the coming weeks. As these are complex issues, the Task Force will be taking them up in a series of sessions.

To improve our built environment, the Government will take the lead in encouraging innovative designs for new buildings and the use of modern building technology.

"The first step towards achieving a healthy built environment is quality construction. The Government will take steps to promote quality construction," he said.

"We propose to introduce a self-financing registration system to tackle safety hazards caused by abandoned signboards."

"As regards green buildings, we need to promote environmentally friendly buildings that are compatible with nature and of better quality," he said.

"We will encourage better design for natural ventilation and lighting and the inclusion of sky gardens and more balconies in new buildings. These facilities will create better air flow and provide extra green space for residents."

Mr Siu said, "the Government will take steps to modernize and liberalize building rules and regulations and to remove barriers to innovative design and modern technology."

As incentives for the private sector to construct "greener buildings", the Government will fast track plan approval for new building designs and techniques, examine the possibility of exempting green facilities from gross floor area calculation, and give open commendation for outstanding green buildings.

"Our vision is a safe and healthy built environment and an attractive city outlook, worthy of a dynamic world-class city. We aim to achieve this in partnership with the community through consultation," Mr Siu said.

End/Wednesday, October 18, 2000