Following is a question by the Hon Leung Kwok-hung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 7):
I have received complaints from the residents of Ma Shi Po Village in Fanling, pointing out that as soon as some developers knew, during the Government's commencement of the North East New Territories New Development Areas (NDAs) Planning and Engineering Study, that the Government would consider adopting a public-private partnership approach for this development plan, they began to acquire land in the areas concerned. As land acquisition was carried out by private developers, the residents affected (most of them being elderly persons) could only apply for public rental housing (PRH) units on their own. At present, there are still more than 20 households which have not yet been allocated PRH units, and there are some others which have been allocated units in unfamiliar districts which are far away from where they currently reside, such as Tuen Mun and Tin Shui Wai. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it will arrange for the residents affected by the above development plan to be rehoused in-situ in PRH units; if not, of the reasons for that;
(b) of the number of the residents who will be affected by the above development plan and, among them, the respective numbers of residential premises situated within the areas of government land and private land;
(c) whether it will include the rehousing needs of the affected residents in the study for the above development plan; if not, of the reasons for that; and
(d) whether it will review the rehousing policy applicable to residents affected by land acquisition by private developers (especially for the development projects which involve public-private partnership); if not, of the reasons for that?
First of all, I have to point out that "land acquisition by private developers" as mentioned in Mr Leung Kwok-hung's question is entirely different in nature from "resumption of private land" by the Government for public purpose.
All landowners may develop their land in accordance with land leases, the Town Planning Ordinance, the Buildings Ordinance and other relevant legislation. "Land acquisition by private developers" mentioned in Mr Leung's question relates to a private agreement between landowners and tenants in which the Government plays no part. Neither is it appropriate for the Government to interfere in the matter.
A study on the proposed North East New Territories New Development Areas (NENT NDAs) is underway and the process of private land resumption for public purpose has not yet started. It will be inevitable for the Government to resume some private land upon the implementation of the NDAs Plan. The Administration will, as a usual practice, compensate the eligible persons affected and rehouse them properly in accordance with the relevant prevailing legislation and policies.
My reply to Mr Leung's four-part question is as follows:
(a) At present, the Housing Department (HD) will make rehousing arrangements for squatter residents if the Lands Department confirms that their squatters need to be cleared. These projects generally involve government clearance operations only. If public housing resources are available, residents affected by government clearance operations will be rehoused in the same district as far as possible.
Persons affected by private housing development can register on the Waiting List for allocation if they are eligible for public housing. Should they have any medical reasons or social needs to support accelerated allocation, they may consider applying to the Social Welfare Department (SWD) for Compassionate Rehousing. In addition, if public housing applicants have individual special grounds to support their applications for flats in a specified district with the recommendations from the relevant departments (e.g. the SWD) or institutions (e.g. the Hospital Authority), the HD will entertain their requests as far as possible if public housing resources are available. Eligible persons who have registered on the Waiting List may also be allocated a public housing flat of their own choice earlier through the annual Express Flat Allocation Scheme.
(b)&(c) The Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Planning Department have jointly commissioned consultants to conduct the Planning and Engineering Study on the NENT NDAs with a view to formulating planning and development frameworks for the Kwu Tung North, Fanling North and Ping Che/Ta Kwu Ling NDAs. As no development option is in hand at this stage, the exact number of residents who will be affected by demolition upon development is still not known. When formulating the Preliminary Outline Development Plans for the NDAs in mid-2009, we will conduct detailed surveys on the number of residents who will be affected and collect the relevant land information. According to the current time-table, the entire study is expected to be completed in mid-2011 and the relevant construction works may commence in 2014 the earliest.
Whilst the works for developing the NDAs will inevitably involve land resumption and clearance, we will carefully address the issues concerned, such as the compensation and re-housing of residents affected. The Development Bureau and related government departments will further examine the land resumption, compensation and re-housing arrangements. We will also consider public opinions on the issues carefully.
(d) As I have mentioned above, the Government will neither take part nor interfere in land acquisition by private developers. Therefore, we do not consider it necessary to formulate a rehousing policy for "land acquisition by private developers". However, if residents affected by land acquisition have any special housing or other social service needs, government departments will consider and handle their cases according to the relevant prevailing policies.
Ends/Wednesday, January 7, 2009
Issued at HKT 15:30