Following is a question by the Hon Kenneth Ting and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 3):
It has been reported that most industrial buildings in Hong Kong are dilapidated as the owners are reluctant to pay for their maintenance and the number of tenants is decreasing. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council whether it will relax the user restrictions on industrial buildings, provide regrant premium concessions to the industries and adopt other relevant measures to encourage owners of industrial building to renovate the buildings and improve their facilities; if it will, of the authorities' specific plans; if not, whether the authorities will expeditiously formulate the relevant policy?
To facilitate the industrial restructuring of Hong Kong, the Town Planning Board (TPB) has in recent years gradually relaxed the restrictions on the use of industrial buildings. For example, in July 2001, uses for the information technology and telecommunications industries, offices related to industrial purposes, and trading companies requiring large storage space and frequently engaged in loading/unloading of goods are included by the TPB as uses which are always permitted in "Industrial" zones, thus allowing more flexibility in the uses of industrial buildings. In addition, in September the same year, the TPB further agreed to allow, subject to applications to the TPB, the use of industrial-office buildings or fully converted industrial buildings in "Industrial" zones as educational institutions or as places of public entertainment.
Meanwhile, the TPB has also encouraged owners to redevelop or renovate their industrial buildings by rezoning industrial land for other uses. Among other things, the TPB introduced in October 2000 the new land use zone of "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Business" ("Business" zone). This new "Business" zone provides considerable flexibility by allowing clean industrial, general office and commercial uses to co-locate at the same building through a new development or whole conversion of the building. Since the introduction of the new zoning in late 2000, the TPB has rezoned over 190 hectares of industrial land for "Business" use.
Apart from relaxing the restrictions on the uses of industrial buildings and rezoning industrial land for "Business" or other uses, the Lands Department has also introduced a simplified procedure for the grant of temporary waivers (owners of industrial buildings may change their industrial buildings into other permissible economic uses through modification of land leases or application for temporary waivers) to facilitate the owners of industrial buildings to convert their buildings into other uses. However, to maintain a level playing field for all, we do not consider it appropriate to offer premium concession in the modification of land leases.
Ends/Wednesday, December 3, 2003