Development Bureau's response to Ombudsman's direct investigation report on New Territories exempted houses
The Development Bureau welcomed the direct investigation report on enforcement against unauthorised building works (UBW) in New Territories exempted houses released by the Ombudsman today (April 19), and would actively follow up on the report's recommendations.
A spokesman for the Development Bureau said that the Administration recognised that there could be room for improvement in the enforcement strategy against the UBW in question. The Administration will implement the recommendations as far as practicable, including taking into account resources of the Buildings Department and the Lands Department.
The spokesman said, "We will review existing procedures to enhance the effectiveness of enforcement against unauthorised building works-in-progress in New Territories exempted houses. We will also critically examine possible adjustments to existing strategy in tackling unauthorised building works-in-progress.
"To overcome the difficulties encountered in enforcement, such as in gaining entry to the premises for inspection, we have already recommended to the Bills Committee on Buildings (Amendment) Bill 2010 to amend the existing regulations so that staff of the Buildings Department may apply to the court for a warrant to enter private premises.
"The exempted houses in the New Territories covered in the Ombudsman's investigation are different from ordinary buildings which are regulated by the Buildings Ordinance. They are of small scale and are of relatively low risk in terms of building safety. They are also constructed to relevant standards for New Territories exempted houses. We are therefore considering formulation of a rationalisation scheme to practically resolve the existing UBW problems in New Territories exempted houses without compromising building safety.
"In its earlier direct investigations, the Ombudsman noted the manpower restraints of the Buildings Department and the Lands Department and agreed with the rationalisation of smaller scale UBWs while not compromising building safety. We will expedite completion of the exercise.
"Meanwhile, the Administration will continue to curb unauthorised building works-in-progress in New Territories exempted houses. We appeal to owners of exempted houses in the New Territories not to carry out any UBW and to cooperate with relevant government departments in complying with statutory orders to remove UBW so as to avoid prosecution."
Ends/Tuesday, April 19, 2011
Issued at HKT 20:31