LDAC advised stepping up efforts to revitalise industrial buildings

The Land and Development Advisory Committee (LDAC) was briefed on the work progress of the Development Opportunities Office (DOO) under the Development Bureau since its establishment in mid 2009 at its meeting today (March 31). Members have provided views and comments on the implementation of measures to revitalise industrial buildings as well as suggestions on the direction of the ongoing mid-term review on these revitalisation measures.

Members agreed in general that the Government should consider whether it could handle the requirement of retaining the existing building frame more flexibly, including, for example, whether loss of gross floor area during conversion may be compensated by addition to other parts of the building and there should also be incentives for installation of green building design or features through wholesale conversion. 

Development Bureau plans to announce results of the review in the second half of this year.

Members also noted that by early March, DOO had handled or was handling 44 land development proposals meeting the eligibility criteria for its services, including 25 projects proposed by non-governmental organisations and 19 projects proposed by private sector. 

Members recognised that the work of DOO in the past year was useful in encouraging and facilitating implementation of community or private land development proposals that would bring broader social and economic merits. Successful implementation of these projects would also contribute to Hong Kong's social and economic development and help create jobs.

In today's meeting, the LDAC also considered three land development proposals, including proposed wholesale conversion of an industrial building in Southern District for commercial, arts and creative uses; a church extension project in North District; and development of an out-reaching architectural centre in Central and Western District.

The proposed wholesale conversion project in Southern District, proposed by Hip Shing Hong Development Company Limited, seeks to convert an existing industrial building for various commercial, arts and creative uses such as art studios, training centres, offices and retail shops. The project proponent plans to provide about 1 000 square metres of floor area for youth and graffiti artists. The project proponent also proposes to adopt green building design and features during conversion of the building.

Members supported this wholesale conversion project as it could complement the transformation and regeneration of Wong Chuk Hang. The Committee also welcomed the proposal to provide properly converted floor spaces to support local arts and creative industries.  Nevertheless, the Committee did not support the proponent's proposal to make up for the loss in floor area due to the need to provide additional loading/unloading bays in the converted building, as it was not in line with the existing policy on revitalising industrial buildings.

Members also considered a land development project proposed by the Catholic Diocese of Hong Kong to extend the St Joseph's Church in Fanling. Apart from preserving the three existing church buildings, which are Grade 3 historic buildings, the project proponent also proposed to extend to the adjoining lot and build a two-storey church building and a three-storey priest quarters to strengthen its services to the congregation in Fanling. The project proponent is prepared to open up the new multi-purpose hall, function rooms and the landscaped open area for community use, where appropriate. The Commissioner for Heritage's Office considered that granting the adjacent lot to the Church for extension was in line with the existing Heritage Conservation Policy, i.e. to provide economic incentives to encourage private owners to preserve existing historic buildings.

Members supported this low-density development project which was compatible with the layout and spatial arrangement of the surrounding area. LDAC also recognised that allowing the proponent to carry out its church extension project at the adjoining lot would encourage preservation of the St Joseph's Church, which is of high heritage value.

The LDAC also gave in-principle support to a proposal by the Hong Kong Architecture Centre Limited to develop an outreaching architecture centre in Central, under the flyover between Connaught Road Central and Rumsey Street. The project proponent is exploring the use of recycled building parts in constructing the proposed centre, which is designed for promoting and educating the public on architecture appreciation. The new centre would also provide an additional cultural tourist attraction, showcasing the characteristics of Hong Kong's townscape.

Members expressed appreciation of the proponent's idea in making use of under-utilised space under the flyovers. They advised that the proponent should explore in greater details various management and operational issues to ensure successful implementation of the proposed project.

Ends/Thursday, March 31, 2011
Issued at HKT 21:08