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Legislative Council Question 3 : "Sanitary fitments in male toilets and female toilets" by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council

Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (January 11):

Question:

In May last year, the Buildings Department ("BD") issued a Practice Note to the architectural sector on the provision of sanitary fitments in male toilets and female toilets in shopping arcades and department stores, places of public entertainment and cinemas. The Practice Note proposed to change the ratio of the number of urinals and water closets in male toilets to that of water closets in female toilets from 1:1 to 1:1.25 and to change the number of sanitary fitments listed in the relevant tables of the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations, in order to alleviate the inadequacy of female toilets in the premises concerned. BD had also indicated that it would propose to incorporate the above ratio into the Regulations after consulting the relevant sectors. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the rationale and criteria on which the ratios of 1:1 and 1:1.25 were based;

(b) whether it has conducted any consultation on the ratio of 1:1.25, if it has, of the persons or groups consulted and details of the consultation; if not, the reasons for that; and whether it has drawn up any action plan and timetable in relation to amending the Regulations; if it has, of the details; and

(c) whether it has conducted any survey on and assessment of implementing the ratio of 1:1.25; if it has, of the details of the survey and assessment; and the number of persons-in-charge of shopping arcades and department stores, places of public entertainment and cinemas who have already provided the relevant sanitary fitments in their premises according to the ratio?

Reply:

Madam President,

My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(1) Firstly, I need to explain the reference to the 1:1 and the 1:1.25 ratios as pointed out by Hon Alan Leong in his question. These ratios are used for assessing the proportion of the number of male and female patronizing the shopping arcades, cinemas and places of public entertainment (PPE), and are not the ratios of the number of urinals and water closets that have to be provided in male lavatories to the number of water closets that have to be provided in female lavatories.

The Buildings Department (BD) commissioned a consultancy study in 2001 to carry out a comprehensive review of the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations. In the course of the review, we continuously received the public's concerns over the inadequate provision of sanitary fitments in female lavatories in these premises. In view of this, BD plans to carry out extensive consultation this year on the proposed amendments arising from the comprehensive review of the Building (Standards of Sanitary Fitments, Plumbing, Drainage Works and Latrines) Regulations, including consultation with the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works and the industry. The proposed amendments will include the new requirements on the provision of sanitary fitments in shopping arcades, cinemas and PPE. We intend to submit the proposed amendments to the relevant building regulations to the Legislative Council after the consultation is completed. In response to the public's concerns over the inadequate provision of sanitary fitments in the relevant premises, BD issued a new Practice Note in May 2005 stipulating mainly two guidelines for improvement in sanitary fitments in the relevant premises.

The first guideline is to revise the ratio for assessing the number of male to female in these premises from 1:1 to 1:1.25. The second guideline is to revise the standard of the provision of sanitary fitments for male and female. The relevant "Practice Note for Authorized Persons and Registered Structural Engineers" is an advisory document. Generally speaking, Authorized Persons (AP) should follow the new guidelines in the submission of plans. However, if the AP cannot follow the new guidelines due to certain reasons, BD will still approve the plan concerned as long as the submission complies with the requirements under the existing legislation.

As regards how the guidelines set out in the new Practice Note increase the number of water closets in female lavatories, Legislative Councillors are requested to refer to the Appendix to the main reply. The Appendix clearly sets out the increased number and percentage of water closets in female lavatories in shopping arcades, cinemas and PPE in relation to different sizes and assessed capacities. Taking a shopping arcade with a floor area of 6 000 m2 as an example, 13 female lavatories have to be provided under the new Practice Note, representing an increase of four from the original nine. Generally speaking, the numbers of water closets and urinals to be provided in male lavatories are not much different from those before the issue of the new Practice Note.

The male to female ratios and standards of provision set out in the new Practice Note is based on a patronage survey conducted by the consultants on the usage of sanitary fitments and satisfaction level in certain shopping arcades, cinemas and PPE in Hong Kong. Reference to relevant standards in overseas countries has also been made.

(2) The BD has consulted some relevant organisations and bodies on the standards of sanitary fitments before the issue of the new Practice Note, including:

(i) Women's Commission
(ii) Hong Kong Institute of Architects
(iii) Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
(iv) Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors
(v) Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong
(vi) Authorized Persons & Registered Structural Engineers Committee
(vii) Building Sub-Committee of Land and Building Advisory Committee

(3) BD will review the effectiveness of the implementation of the new Practice Note before finalising the proposed amendments to the relevant building regulations. During the few months since promulgation of the Practice Note in May 2005, the Building Authority has approved building plans of two new shopping arcades and alterations to two existing shopping arcades in which the guidelines under the new Practice Note have been adopted.

Ends/Wednesday, January 11, 2006
Issued at HKT 13:12

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Attachments
Annex


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