Following is a question by the Hon Ip Kwok-him and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (February 25):
After last month's meeting of the Task Force on Economic Challenges, the Chief Executive said that the Lands Department had compiled a list of vacant government sites throughout the territory which might be made available for short-term use by non-governmental organisations, and that if the sites were for use in community projects and support of District Councils and government departments had also been obtained, the sites would only be charged a nominal rent. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the information about the aforesaid vacant sites (including the location, area, and the community purposes for which the sites have been/are to be approved); and
(b) what plans are in place to foster the effective utilisation of the aforesaid vacant sites by various District Councils, so as to increase community facilities and create more employment opportunities?
As announced by the Financial Secretary in the 2008-09 Budget Speech, the Government will adopt a more proactive and flexible approach in the use of land resources, and one of the measures is for the Lands Department (Lands D) to liaise with District Councils (DCs) and study ways of putting vacant government land not needed in the short term to better use, for example, beautifying it or converting it to other temporary public use.
My reply to the two-part question is as follows -
(a) The Lands D has already prepared a "List of Vacant Government Sites". About 1,000 vacant Government sites which have no imminent use are on the list. They are of different sizes and shapes and distributed within the 18 districts throughout the territory. Since July last year, the District Lands Offices of the Lands D have been providing, either directly or through the District Management Committees, information about the vacant sites that can be put to temporary beautification or public use in each district to the District Officers and District Social Welfare Officers concerned. At present, over 10 such Government sites have been used for purposes like organic farms, temporary cycling parks, venues for school activities, non-commercial storage yards or amenity areas etc. While some of the projects involved are directly implemented and sponsored by the DCs, the sites in respect of some other projects are rented by community organisations, welfare agencies and schools, for a period ranging from one to three years. Also, the Shatin District Lands Office is now processing an application from a community organisation for a short term tenancy of a vacant Government site for parking bicycles and providing community service etc. We will seek the views of District Councils on announcing the details of vacant Government sites that are available for short-term use in their districts.
(b) Meanwhile, the Lands D has adopted a simplified procedure to process the applications for the use of the 1,000 vacant Government sites, and has authorised District Lands Officers to approve such applications following consultation with the departments concerned, without referring such applications to the District Lands Conferences, so that applicants could put the relevant sites to use as early as possible. After the third meeting of the Task Force on Economic Challenges held on January 22, 2009, the Chief Executive mentioned that interested parties with good proposals could contact the District Officers concerned who will make their best endeavours to follow up and coordinate, so as to facilitate their use of such sites for increasing local economic activities and creating new job opportunities.
Ends/Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Issued at HKT 14:56