Land policy responsive to market forces



The adoption of market forces is the Government's principal strategy in administering its land policy, and responsiveness to market situation lies at the heart of the Government's land management regime, the Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr John C Tsang, said today (June 6).


Speaking at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors' Land Management Seminar, Mr Tsang said that the way the Government manages the use and disposal of land carries a significant impact on the property market, which, in turn, affects the economy as a whole.


"We operate an open and transparent system of making land available to the market."


Mr Tsang said that under the Land Sale and Development Programmes, land is supplied at the right time and at the right price reflecting the prevailing market conditions.


"Government's land sales are subject to competitive bidding."


"We do not sell land at below-market prices in order to meet budgetary targets, nor do we maintain a high land price policy to secure high income for the general revenue. We sell land at a price determined by the market."


"To better serve market needs, we have, since April 1999, installed a market-led Application List system to supplement the regular land auction and tender programme."


"With the Application List system, Government will not be able to over-load the market intentionally or unintentionally with excess land supply, particularly those large and expensive sites."


Mr Tsang noted that since the introduction of the system, nine residential sites totaling about 13 hectares and four non-housing sites totaling about three hectares have been sold by application.


"We have also sold 41 private housing sites totaling some 34 hectares by regular land auctions or tenders, " he said.


"Another source of land supply rests with the private sector. This takes the form of the private sector's initiative to change existing land use or to develop sites under their ownership."


"In this arena, Government acts as the market facilitator who creates the suitable environment for the transformation to take place."


Mr Tsang said that the Town Planning Board had, over the last two years, rezoned a total of 165 hectares of surplus industrial land to business use, providing much more flexibility for economic activities and 47 hectares to other non-industrial uses, such as residential development and community facilities.


"The total amount of rezoned industrial land now represents about 40 per cent of the original stock, and we intend to rezone more in future."


He added that the Government was also exploring the possibility of developing old industrial buildings into loft-type developments.


"We also facilitate redevelopments by modifying land leases," he said.


According to Mr Tsang, more than 200 lease modification and land exchange cases involving residential developments with some 12,300 flats were completed in the last financial year.


"The market-led approach in our land management regime has served Hong Kong well in the past, and I have every confidence that it will continue to do so in the years ahead," Mr Tsang said.


End/Thursday, June 6, 2002