Comprehensive review on Buildings Ordinance starts

The Government gazetted today (Thursday) the Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2000 aimed at improving and updating the Buildings Ordinance, based on the operational experience of the Building Authority.

During the Legislative Council Motion Debate on January 26 this year, the Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr Gordon Siu, revealed that this Bill was the first phase of a comprehensive review of the Buildings Ordinance which he outlined.

The remaining phases of the review would include improvements to supervision of building works to ensure quality construction; measures to promote sustainability and environmental protection in building works and design; measures to simplify procedures; and to increase penalty provisions.

The Bill will be introduced into the Legislative Council on February 16, 2000.

A Government spokesman said that one set of proposals dealing with the environment is to require all new buildings to have provision for floor space for sorting and storing waste materials so that these can be reused or recycled.

As an incentive, the space requirement will not count towards the Gross Floor Area of the development.

"This proposal will help increase the proportion of waste material reused or recycled," the spokesman said.

"At present from domestic buildings, only eight per cent of waste material is reused or recycled. We expect that the proposal, combined with initiatives of the Environmental Protection Department to educate the public and facilitate waste recycling, will help increase the amount of waste reused or recycled," he added.

On information technology, the Bill contains a set of proposals to ensure that people, whether at home or at work, can access to and have a choice of telecommunication and broadcasting networks.

Access facilities for these telecommunication and broadcasting services will be improved in new commercial, industrial, residential (other than buildings for single family residence) and hotel buildings.

"The floor space for the required Telecommunication and Broadcasting Equipment Rooms and ducts and risers for the cables may be excluded from the Gross Floor Area of the development," the spokesman said.

The Bill also formalizes the existing concessions for bona fide hotel developments which may be constructed to a non-domestic plot ratio of 15, rather than 10 for buildings classified as domestic, and with the more relaxed non-domestic site coverage restrictions.

Exemption from Gross Floor Area calculation may continue to be given for certain supporting facilities for hotels and for suitably designed setting-down and picking-up areas.

The penalties for unauthorized change of use of hotels that have been granted such concessions have been increased to a fine of $100,000 and two years imprisonment.

There is also provision for a daily fine of $5,000 for continuing offences.

The spokesman said, "The continuation of the building concessions for hotel developments is designed to support the long-term growth of the tourism industry which is a significant contributor to our Gross Domestic Product."

Other amendments made by the Bill include to extend geotechnical controls to sites throughout Hong Kong where geological conditions need to be verified during construction or where the groundwater regime may be adversely affected by the development.

These controls will also be extended to buildings with unconventional designs.

Another proposal is to change the fee structure for registration of an Authorized Person and Registered Structural Engineer to provide for fees for application and for inclusion in a register.

As a result of a costing review the total fees to be paid for successful inclusion in a register will be reduced from $6,110 to $4,500. Fees for annual retention in a register will also be reduced from $840 to $815.

Ends/Thursday, February 3, 2000