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Design and management guidelines for public open space in private developments issued

The Development Bureau (DEVB) today (January 14) issued a set of design and management guidelines for public open space in private developments. These guidelines will come into effect on February 14, 2011.

In February 2009, with a view to improving Hong Kong's cityscape and addressing public concern about the management of public open space in private developments, the DEVB commissioned a consultancy study to help draw up a set of design and management guidelines. Following useful consultations with stakeholders including professional bodies, trade organisations and concerned parties, the DEVB has accepted the consultants' recommendations and issued the guidelines today.

Both the consultants' report and the guidelines have been uploaded onto the DEVB's website: www.devb.gov.hk/en/issues_in_focus/provision_of_public_facilities/index.html .

Speaking on the published guidelines, a spokesman for DEVB said: "The design guidelines provide a framework for better design based on the principles of connectivity, appropriateness and quality, with due emphasis on public comfort and greenery."

The design guidelines should apply to future public open space in private developments, with a flexibility allowed to cater for site-specific circumstances of individual cases, while existing cases are strongly advised to take note when opportunity arises, for example, when the development will undergo major renovations.

"The management guidelines aim to provide a clear and practicable basis for owners, management agencies and the general public to follow. They cover such issues as rights and obligations of owners and users, different types of activities and other operational matters, with the objective of striking a pragmatic balance between the discharge of the owners' responsibility and public enjoyment of such public open space in private developments," the spokesman added.

Taking account of overseas experience and local feedback, the consultants advocated some prudent use of public open space for commercial (e.g. outdoor cafes or alfresco dining) and non-commercial (e.g. arts display and charitable/educational events) activities.

"The guidelines provide that, as a rule of thumb, areas permissible for commercial activities should not exceed 10% of the public open space in private developments. This percentage is on the low side compared with international standards so as to reflect the relatively high pedestrian flow in Hong Kong and the supplementary function of such uses in public open space. The owners and management companies should apply to the Lands Department for a fee-paying waiver where the public open space is subject to lease conditions, or seek permission from the Buildings Department as appropriate where the public open space is subject to a deed of dedication," the spokesman noted.

"We believe that a certain amount of non-commercial or charitable activities as well as limited commercial activities in suitable public open space in private developments will bring vibrancy and vitality to these areas and benefit the general public. The guidelines set out the relevant considerations and the approvals required. Normally, only public open space in offices and shopping centres are considered suitable," the spokesman said.

The management guidelines should apply to new and existing public open space in private developments in so far as permitted under the leases or the deeds of dedication.

Ends/Friday, January 14, 2011
Issued at HKT 12:02