LDAC briefed on Budget initiatives

At the meeting today (February 9), the Land and Development Advisory Committee (LDAC) was briefed on the 2012-13 Budget initiatives concerning the Development Bureau.

The Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, briefed members on key initiatives in increasing land supply and creating a land reserve, including land sale arrangement, conducting land use studies and reviews, utilising the development potential of railway-property projects, increasing the supply of small and medium-sized flats, hotel rooms and commercial/business sites by various methods. Members noted that the estimated housing land supply in aggregate in the coming year will provide some 30,000 private residential flats.

Members generally agreed that the government should expand land resources in a multi-pronged manner and considered that the government should continue to increase supply of housing land in the long term, so as to respond to the keen demand of the public for housing land and facilitate a stable development of the property market.

Members also generally agreed with the government's measures to impose suitable restrictions on flat number or flat size in land sale. But they also considered that the government should strike a balance between the public demand on the number and size of residential flats, and the quality of living environment.

Members were also briefed on the review of the work of the Development Opportunities Office (DOO). By the end of December 2011, the Office had handled or was handling 51 land development projects meeting the eligibility criteria of its one-stop service and had submitted 32 projects to the LDAC for advice or information on reasons why some projects could not be taken forward. Members noted that as a government response to the economic situation after the financial tsunami, DOO has met the objective in providing useful assistance to land development projects and that the Office will not be extended beyond June 2012, after it has completed its three-year operation period.

The policy issues that the Office is handling and the provision of secretariat support to the LDAC will be transferred to the Planning and Lands Branch of the Development Bureau. The current co-ordination service for meritorious land development proposals will be taken up by the relevant policy bureaux, policy units in the Development Bureau and its group of departments, where appropriate.

Members unanimously recognised the achievements of DOO in the past two and a half years and considered that the one-stop consultation and co-ordination service provided by the Office is effective in facilitating the implementation of land development projects with social and economic merits, especially those more innovative ones. Submission of the proposed projects to the LDAC for discussion also enhances the transparency and credibility of the work of the Office. Members hoped that the government of the next term would consider re-establishing a dedicated unit similar to DOO to provide one-stop consultation and co-ordination service to land development projects.

The Committee also considered a proposal by the Heep Hong Society to redevelop the Catherine Lo Centre in Sandy Bay, which is more than 40 years old, into a 10-storey rehabilitation centre. The redeveloped centre will provide more early education and training services and a special children care centre to children with physical disabilities or special developmental needs, from pre-school years to young adulthood. It will also provide a range of other services to these children and their parents, including social adaption training and parents' resources centre.

Members supported this project because it could expand the capacity of existing services and enable the centre to provide more value-added services to children with physical disabilities or special developmental needs, from pre-school years to young adulthood and respond to the society's growing demand for such services.

Ends/Thursday, February 9, 2012
Issued at HKT 20:31