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LCQ7: District Urban Renewal Forums

Following is a question by the Hon Priscilla Leung Mei-fun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (January 5):

Question:

In his 2010-2011 Policy Address, the Chief Executive proposes to set up District Urban Renewal Forums (DURFs) to collect views from professionals and local residents, with the first pilot DURF to be set up in Kowloon City.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) when the first DURF will be set up the earliest; what principles the Government will adopt in appointing members to DURF, and the respective ratios of members from the Government, business sector, local residents and professionals; and DURF's foremost work plan upon its establishment;

(b) given that the authorities have proposed in the "Public Views and Future Direction Paper", which was released at the final stage (i.e. the Consensus Building Stage) of the Urban Renewal Strategy Review, that DURF "should be independent of DC (District Council)", how DURF will communicate and co-operate with DC in future;

(c) whether the tasks or terms of reference of DURF will overlap with those of the Town Planning Board in future; if so, how the authorities will deal with it;

(d) given that apart from Kowloon City, there are many old buildings in other districts in Kowloon, whether the authorities at present have any plan to set up DURFs in other districts; if so, when these DURFs will be established the earliest; and

(e) how the authorities ensure that the views of DURF will be given due consideration?

Reply:

President,

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

(a) The Development Bureau plans to promulgate the revised "Urban Renewal Strategy" (URS) in the first quarter of 2011 and set up the first District Urban Renewal Forum (DURF) in Kowloon City district as announced in the Chief Executive's 2010-11 Policy Address.  The objective of establishing DURFs is to implement urban renewal following local characteristics and aspirations more systematically through a platform guided by professionals, with the participation of members of the local community and facilitated by government departments.  The Chairman of DURF will come from a professional discipline familiar with urban renewal issues.  Membership will include District Councillors/Area Committee members, professionals, established non-government organisations/groups serving the district, and representatives of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and relevant government departments.  We are now considering the membership of DURF and non-official members will be appointed by the Government in their personal capacities.  While we will not have any pre-determined ratio for members based on their background, we will strive to include a broad spectrum of representatives from different fields.  The top priority for DURFs is to provide advice on district-based urban renewal initiatives (including locations where rehabilitation, redevelopment or preservation should be carried out) from a holistic and integrated perspective through public engagement and studies.

(b) While the DURFs will be independent of the District Councils, interaction between them can be achieved through exchanges and joint activities.  Moreover, we will actively consider inviting local District Councillors to serve as members of DURFs.

(c) DURFs are consultative in nature and not statutory bodies. DURFs will adopt a "people-centred, bottom-up, district-based" approach to recommend urban renewal initiatives for the old districts.  The Town Planning Board (TPB) is a statutory body responsible for the systematic preparation of draft plans for the lay-out of such areas of Hong Kong as the Chief Executive may direct, as well as the types of buildings suitable for erection therein, and the preparation of draft development permission area plans according to the Town Planning Ordinance.  There is no overlap between DURFs and the TPB in their work or functions.  In fact, if the recommendations of DURFs involve amendments to Outline Zoning Plans or require prior approvals of the TPB, the implementation agents concerned will proceed in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance.

(d) We will decide on where to set up the second DURF in the light of the experience gained in the operation of the first DURF established in Kowloon City, and also having regard to the number and conditions of dilapidated buildings in various districts.  For the time being, we have yet to firm up a timetable for setting up other DURFs.

(e) The setting up of DURFs to facilitate urban renewal of old districts is an important initiative under the revised URS announced after a two-year public engagement exercise.  It is also a key measure to implement the "people-centred, bottom-up, district-based" approach.  The revised URS has been endorsed by the Executive Council and announced by the Chief Executive in his 2010-2011 Policy Address, and hence is a policy agenda of the Special Administrative Region Government and a blueprint guiding the work of the URA.  Besides, the Government has earmarked additional resources for the creation of eight non-directorate posts and will apply to the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council for funding to create a directorate post of Chief Town Planner so as to make sure that there will be sufficient manpower resource to support the work of DURFs.  The $500 million Urban Renewal Trust Fund to be set up will also ensure that DURFs will have sufficient funding to conduct researches, organise public engagement activities and carry out other work.  The Development Bureau will monitor the overall operation of DURFs to ensure that their recommendations will be adopted where appropriate.


Ends/Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:11

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