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Legislative Council Question 3 : "Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation" by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and an oral reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council

Following is a question by the Hon Tam Yiu-chung and an oral reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 20):

Question:

As there is great public concern about whether the disposition of newly constructed buildings will create the wall effect, which is not conducive to air ventilation in the districts, will the Government inform this Council, in order to improve air ventilation:

(a) whether it plans to set building height limits for waterfront sites on the Application List; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that;

(b) whether it plans to apply the new Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation, which are contained in the Urban Design Guidelines issued by the Planning Department, to assess all the proposed property development projects above railway stations, and request the developers concerned to amend their building designs according to such Guidelines; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) whether it plans to enact legislation to enforce the Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation; if so, of the relevant details; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

Madam President,

The Government shares and supports the community's aspiration to quality living environment. Apart from building structure and safety, regard is also given to the design and disposition of buildings, including the impact on air ventilation.

We have conducted a "Feasibility Study for the Establishment of Air Ventilation Assessment System" and also prepared the "Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation" and a framework for carrying out air ventilation assessment. The Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation have also been incorporated into the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines under the chapter on "Urban Design Guidelines".

In July this year, my Bureau and the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau issued a joint technical circular on air ventilation assessment to provide clear guidelines on matters concerning air ventilation assessment for major government projects for initial implementation by relevant departments. We hope this can serve as a role model for the industry.

My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) Land developments in Hong Kong should comply with the development parameters of Outline Zoning Plans (OZP), and height restriction is one of the essential development parameters. Height restrictions prescribed by an OZP are applicable to all sites concerned within the zone, including those on the Application List (AL). For waterfront sites on the existing AL, height restrictions have already been stipulated.

Regarding sites which are currently not subject to height restrictions, appropriate height restrictions will be prescribed progressively after assessment. Such restrictions will be implemented through land leases. This arrangement applies to Government land sale sites and lease modification applications for which Government's approval is required.

(b) At present, the Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation are applicable only to major government projects. For private projects, including the property developments above railway stations, we encourage project proponents to refer to and adopt the Guidelines in their planning and designs.

(c) At present, we have no plan to enact legislation to enforce the Qualitative Guidelines on Air Ventilation. The main reason is that the contents of the Guidelines involve some non-quantifiable planning and design issues. In applying the Guidelines, due consideration should be given to the uniqueness of each individual site, as well as the relevant peripheral factors. At present, it is not desirable to implement them compulsorily through legislation.

Ends/Wednesday, December 20, 2006
Issued at HKT 15:03

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