Following is a question by the Hon Howard Young and a written reply by the Secretary for Planning and Lands, Mr John C Tsang, in the Legislative Council today (May 22):
The Town Planning Board has relaxed the user restrictions on industrial buildings by allowing owners to use them for information technology and telecommunication purposes without requiring applications for changes of their use, or to apply to use them as educational institutions and places of public entertainment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the respective numbers of applications received and approved so far in relation to changes in user of industrial buildings; and
(b) whether it has examined the feasibility of further relaxing the user restrictions on industrial buildings, such as allowing travel agents operating through computer and information technology to conduct business therein, so as to boost the utilization rate of such buildings?
(a) The Government has been looking for ways to encourage better utilization of existing industrial buildings. In this connection, the Town Planning Board (TPB) has gradually relaxed the restrictions on the use of industrial premises to provide greater flexibility. A range of uses such as IT industry, telecommunications industry and offices related to industrial purposes are always permitted in industrial buildings. As there is no need to submit planning applications for such uses, we do not have the statistics in this respect. As for educational institutions and places of public entertainment which were included as permissible uses since September 2001, no applications for such purposes have been received so far.
(b) The Government will continue to monitor market response and, if necessary, consider further relaxation. The Planning Department is studying the feasibility of the "loft" concept to allow greater flexibility for the market to utilize the industrial premises.
As regards offices of travel agents, it has all along been a use that may be permitted in industrial buildings on application to TPB. The Board will consider individual case on its merits having regard to various factors including fire safety concerns.
End/Wednesday, May 22, 2002