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Legislative Council Question 19 : "Fixtures on external walls of buildings" by the Hon Cheung Hok-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council

Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Hok-ming and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 15):

Question:

There are currently large television screens or large glass panels mounted on the external walls of some buildings in various popular shopping areas, including Mongkok and Causeway Bay. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether prior approval of any particular government department(s) is required for the installation of such fixtures;

(b) whether third party insurance in respect of such fixtures is required;

(c) whether such large fixtures have caused any accidents or casualties over the past three years; if they have, of the compensation involved and the parties liable for the compensation;

(d) whether it has assessed if these fixtures have any implications on the taking out of third party insurance for the buildings concerned; if it has, of the assessment results; and

(e) whether regular inspection on these fixtures have been conducted by the government department(s) concerned over the past three years; if so, of the inspection measures taken and the results ?

Answer:

President:

Our reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The mounting of large glass panels or large television (TV) screens at external walls of buildings are within the ambit of the Buildings Ordinance. The owner concerned should appoint an Authorized Person and, where necessary, engage a Registered Structural Engineer to submit plans for the approval of the Building Authority (the Authority). For large TV screens, the Authority would seek advice from the relevant departments, including the Lands Department, Highways Department and Transport Department, on the locations of such fixtures.

Moreover, the owner should also engage a Registered General Building Contractor to carry out the installation works.

Large TV screens or large glass panels mounted on external walls of buildings without approval and consent from the Authority are unauthorized building works (UBWs). The Authority may take enforcement actions against such UBWs in accordance with the Buildings Ordinance.

(b) In respect of the common parts of buildings, a provision has been introduced in the Building Management (Amendment) Ordinance 2000, requiring all owners' corporations (OCs) to procure a policy of third party risks insurance for the building's common parts. As the implementation details have yet to be worked out, the provision has not yet come into operation.

The draft Building Management (Third Party Risks Insurance) Regulation 2005 (the Regulation) prepared by the Home Affairs Bureau, which sets out the implementation details of the aforementioned provision, was submitted together with the Building Management (Amendment) Bill 2005 to the Legislative Council in April 2005.

Once the Regulation comes into effect, the third party risks insurance procured by OCs for the common parts should cover all fixtures attached or mounted on the common parts of buildings.

(c) The Buildings Department (BD) has no record of casualties caused by accidents related to large glass panels or large TV screens over the past three years.

(d) Insurance services and relevant terms and conditions offered by each insurance company are different. In general, an insurance company will consider factors such as the number of units, building age, structural and maintenance condition, including the presence of UBWs, when deciding whether to offer an insurance policy to a client and in assessing the premium. Since individual building situation varies, it is difficult to assess whether the fixtures mentioned in the question would have implications on the procurement of third party insurance.

(e) The BD carries out regular inspections on UBWs along main streets, including large glass panels and large TV screens. If such UBWs are found during the stage of construction, the BD will take immediate enforcement actions.

In 2005 and 2006 (up to the end of September), the BD issued 24 and 4 orders respectively to demand the removal of unauthorized large glass panels and large TV screens.

Ends/Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Issued at HKT 13:19

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