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LCQ3: Vetting and approving of plans of building works by the departments

Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (October 24):

Question:

Regarding the vetting and approving of plans of building works by the departments concerned, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) following the adoption of the layout plan of an area by the Planning Department, whether amendments will be made to the relevant Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) to achieve consistency in the planning requirements specified in both plans; if so, of the amendment procedures, and taking Tuen Mun New Town Area 20 Layout Plan No. L/TM/20/1G as an example, why the planning requirements for the different types of residential sites specified therein have not been reflected in the relevant OZP No. S/TM/22;

(b) whether the Building Authority (BA), in vetting and approving a plan of building works, will consider, besides the planning requirements of the relevant OZP, if the plan has contravened the planning requirements of the relevant layout plan; whether he will approve a plan that is in contravention of the height limit requirements specified in the layout plan, and what channels are available for the affected residents to appeal against BA's decision to approve the plan;

(c) whether adopted layout plans fall within the meaning of "any approved or draft plan" specified in section 16(1)(d) of the Buildings Ordinance (Cap. 123); if not, whether amendments will be made to the legislation to provide that BA has to take into account the relevant layout plan in vetting and approving a plan of building works; and

(d) whether there are guidelines specifying that the relevant departments have to consult the affected residents in vetting and approving plans of building works of redevelopment projects; if so, of the consultation procedures, and the information to be made available to the residents to help them understand how the redevelopment projects will affect them?

Reply:

Madam President,

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

(a) Tuen Mun is a new town developed in the early days. The Tuen Mun Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) sets out only land uses without stipulating their basic development parameters. The control on development intensity and building height of land within the OZP has all along been enforced through the layout plan and development conditions of the individual land leases. Based on previous experience, it is necessary to suitably reflect in the OZP the development parameters stipulated in the layout plan in order to more effectively enforce the development parameters of the latter. The Government is reviewing the OZPs of various areas progressively. In view of the time required for the review, it is not possible to align the development parameters of layout plans and OZPs in a short period of time, such as the Tuen Mun Area 20 Layout Plan No. L/TM/20/1G. I reckon that this may cause confusion and have asked the departments under the purview of the Development Bureau to consider how to improve the current situation.

(b) and (c) In accordance with section 16(1)(d) of the Buildings Ordinance, the Building Authority (BA) may refuse to give his approval of any plans of building works under application that contravene any approved or draft plan prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance.

OZPs are statutory plans prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance. In vetting and approving building plans, the BA will ensure that the building plans comply with the restrictions stipulated under the relevant OZP.

As layout plans are not statutory plans prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance, the BA cannot, by invoking section 16(1)(d) of the Buildings Ordinance, refuse to give his approval of the building plans that are not in line with the requirements of the relevant layout plan. We do not consider it necessary to amend the Buildings Ordinance at this stage.

The Buildings Ordinance stipulates an appeal mechanism under which a person aggrieved (where an application for vetting and approving of building plans is concerned, the person aggrieved refers to the applicant for approval of the building plans) by a decision made by the BA in the exercise of a discretion conferred on him under the Ordinance may appeal to the Appeal Tribunal against that decision in accordance with the requirements of the Ordinance.

(d) The Buildings Ordinance does not require the BA to consult the public when vetting and approving building plans. However, a statutory public consultation mechanism is in place in the process of preparing OZPs. The BA will, in vetting and approving building plans, ensure that the requirements of the relevant OZP are met.

Ends/Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Issued at HKT 16:00

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