Land requirement and supply for major land uses discussed

"There will be sufficient supply of land to cater for the demand from the various major types of land uses. The Government has estimated that about 3,872 hectares of land can be made available to meet the demand from these various types of land uses in the coming 10 years," said Professor Yeung Yue-man, Chairman of the Land and Building Advisory Committee (LBAC) today (March 20).

"About 40 per cent of the 3,872 hectares of land has been formed. Nevertheless, the actual amount of land to be produced is subject to regular review and the timing of disposal of the sites available will be determined by the five-year Land Sale and Development Programme in the light of market demand.

"Land produced but not immediately required for disposal will be held as land reserve to ensure steady supply of land."

"The New Territories will continue to be the major source of supply of new land.

"In particular, the development of the Strategic Growth Areas in northwest and northeast New Territories; and the housing development associated with the West Rail and Ma On Shan railway development will play an important role in the supply of new housing sites.

"These two categories provide land capable of producing 100,000 and 57,000 flats respectively," added Professor Yeung.

The Land and Building Advisory Committee was briefed at its 59th meeting today on the findings of the Review of Land Requirements and Land Supply for Major Land Uses conducted by the Planning Department.

The Review is a regular exercise to update the overall long-term land supply and demand situation to ensure sufficient land will be available to meet the requirements of various major types of land uses.

While the demand for commercial offices is expected to increase by 68 per cent from 1998 to 2011, the demand for industrial land in general is expected to diminish continuously in the coming years.

In fact, about 100 hectares of industrial land has been re-zoned to other uses since mid-1997. It is estimated that an additional 90 hectares of industrial land can be re-zoned for other uses and the Planning Department is carrying out detailed assessments in this regard.

In addition, the Committee was briefed at the same meeting on the "Open Competition for West Kowloon Reclamation".

"Members in general support and consider it an innovative way to solicit ideas for developing the West Kowloon Reclamation into an arts, cultural and entertainment district by way of an open competition." Professor Yeung said.

"Members have noted that there is no automatic linkage between the competition and eventual development rights of the West Kowloon Reclamation (WKR), and that the Government shall not be bound to develop WKR in accordance with the winning design, and reserves the right to conduct further feasibility study on or to make amendments to the winning design."

"The Government aims to launch the competition in April. Participants will be given three months to prepare their submissions. All entries will be initially assessed by a Technical Panel to be chaired by the Director of Planning."

"The Panel will shortlist five entries for the final consideration of an Executive Panel. It is anticipated that the result of the Competition will be available in October 2000," added Professor Yeung.

In his 1999 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced the plan to develop a major world-class performance venue on WKR and to hold an open competition to enlist the help of local and overseas professionals as well as those outside Hong Kong to create a new look for the Victoria Harbour, including the waterfront at WKR.

Professional bodies, key stakeholders, relevant boards and committees and LegCo members have been briefed on the details of the competition.

The Committee was also briefed on the Town Planning Bill at today's meeting.

"With the increasing complexity of the social, economic and political environment in Hong Kong, members in general support the major new provisions in the Town Planning Bill, which aims to make the planning system more open and accountable to the public; and to streamline planning procedures and improve efficiency," said Professor Yeung.

"The Town Planning Board (TPB) will now be empowered to conduct one-stage inquiries on unwithdrawn adverse representations and comments where both representers and commenters would be invited to attend.

"The TPB will also be empowered to designate 'Environmentally Sensitive Area' (ESA), 'Special Design Area' (SDA) and 'Designated Development' (DD) in town plans for more effective planning control. Every planning application should be accompanied by an environmental statement to highlight environmental implications of the proposed development."

"To improve efficiency, new statutory requirements will be imposed on the Town Planning Appeal Board (TPAB) to consider an appeal within three months and to inform the appellants of the decisions within one month of its determination," added Professor Yeung.

The Town Planning Bill was introduced into the Legislative Council on February 16 after extensive consultation. A Bills Committee has been formed to study the Bill.

End/Monday, March 20, 2000