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Legislative Council Question 3 : "Outline Zoning Plans" by the Hon Abraham Shek 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 Abraham Shek and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (April 25):

Question:

It has been learnt that from time to time since 2005, various forms of building height restrictions and plot ratio reduction have been introduced to approved Outline Zoning Plans. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:

(a) the policy objective of introducing the above building height restrictions and plot ratio reduction; and

(b) the districts and private sites to which such restrictions and reduction have been introduced since 2005, as well as the estimated loss of revenue and of the value of land because of such restrictions and reduction?

Reply:

Madam President,

Planning is an on-going process. The Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) made pursuant to the Town Planning Ordinance (the Ordinance), which set out the development parameters and land use planning of individual areas, are reviewed and updated from time to time to meet changing social and economic needs. All OZPs, and the updated versions thereof, are approved by the Chief Executive in Council.

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

(a) It is a well-established practice of the Town Planning Board (the Board) to stipulate development restrictions to provide open, clear and unambiguous development parameters for compliance by relevant parties. In general, restrictions on plot ratio are stipulated to demarcate areas of different development intensities. This is to make sure that the local infrastructure, environmental and traffic capacities can cater for the demand arising from the development intensities. Building height restrictions are stipulated to protect important ridgelines, views to the harbour and other valuable attributes of our landscape; to preserve the special character of some neighbourhoods; and to achieve compatibility with the surrounding developments and natural setting.

(b) Since January 2005, amendments to 15 OZPs for imposing or updating plot ratio, gross floor area or building height restrictions have been gazetted under the Ordinance. Seven of these OZPs have been approved by the Chief Executive in Council. These 15 OZPs cover 10 districts namely Eastern District, Southern District, Wan Chai, Kowloon City, Kwun Tong, Sham Shui Po, Kwai Tsing, Tsuen Wan, Northern District and Yuen Long.

In general, developments already completed or approved will not be affected by the new development restrictions. However, when an existing building is to be redeveloped, the redevelopment would be subject to the new development restrictions, or the bulk and height of the existing building, whichever is the greater.

While it is generally true that lower development intensity would mean less revenue, lower development intensity could avoid excessive developments in densely populated and congested areas, thus allowing public benefits not quantifiable in monetary terms to be gained. Lower development intensity also improves our quality of living and it responds to the community calls for better building layouts and more open space.

Ends/Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Issued at HKT 12:54

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