Following is a question by the Hon Chan Hak-kan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 20):
Quite a number of residents in the old market towns (including Shek Wu Hui in Sheung Shui, Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Tai Po Hui) in the New Territories have relayed to me that the planning for old market towns fails to catch up with the overall development in the districts, and the transport and ancillary facilities are very outdated, resulting in some vacant government lots being used as temporary car parks on a long-term basis. They have further pointed out that there are distinctive communal features in old market towns and suggested the implementation of revitalisation and conservation programmes through which both environmental improvement and promotion of local economy will be achieved. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a)of the respective population structure of the aforesaid three market towns in the past five years; and the anticipated changes in population in the next five years;
(b)of the respective numbers of vehicle parking spaces in the aforesaid three market towns at present; whether it has considered increasing the number of parking spaces or building car parks to meet the demand; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(c)given that the Luen Wo Market in Luen Wo Hui of Fanling has been lying idled since it ceased operation in 2002, of the reasons for the absence of any specific development plan to date, even though the Market has been classified as a Grade III historic building; whether it will consider revitalising and conserving the Market; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(d)given that some traditional buildings with historical value in the aforesaid three market towns (e.g. Old District Office North and the Former Sheung Shui Public Library Building at Fu Hing Street) are currently being occupied by government departments and non-governmental organisations, whether the Government will review the arrangement concerned, so as to vacate such buildings for other revitalisation and conservation purposes; and
(e)whether large-scale projects will be introduced for greening and enhancing environmental hygiene at the aforesaid three market towns?
My reply to the five parts of the question is as follows:
(a)According to the data compiled by the Planning Department (PlanD) on the basis of the 2006 Population By-census of the Census and Statistics Department (C&SD), the current population sizes of Tai Po Hui, Luen Wo Hui and Shek Wu Hui are about 14 000, 4 200 and 8 000 respectively. There has not been any significant change in the population size of these market towns in the past five years. Since there is currently no information indicating major development or redevelopment projects in these market towns, it is anticipated that their population sizes will not increase significantly in the next five years and will be around 17 500, 4 600 and 8 600 respectively.
PlanD and C&SD do not have any information concerning the population structure of Shek Wu Hui in Sheung Shui, Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Tai Po Hui for the past and the next five years. However, the tables showing the distribution of population residing in the North District Council Luen Wo Hui and Shek Wu Hui Constituency Areas, as well as the Tai Po District Council Tai Po Hui Constituency Area by age and gender on the basis of the results of the 2006 Population By-census and 2011 Population Census are at Annex.
(b)There are 660, 760 and 1 030 parking spaces open to the public in Shek Wu Hui in Sheung Shui, Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Tai Po Kau Hui respectively. It is expected that the public housing estate development at Po Heung Street will, on completion, provide about 100 parking spaces for Tai Po Kau Hui and the neighbouring areas and about 50 of these parking spaces will be open to the public. The Transport Department (TD) considers that, in overall terms, there are sufficient parking spaces in the above-mentioned areas. The Government has no plan to construct carparks in these areas.
TD keeps in view the demand and supply situation of parking spaces in various districts and would provide additional on-street parking spaces where necessary with due regard for smooth traffic flow, road safety and other road users. It also maintains close liaison with the relevant departments to provide additional parking spaces by arranging grant of sites suitable for use as temporary carparks through the Lands Department (LandsD). Developers are also required to provide sufficient parking spaces to meet the demand arising from their development projects in compliance with the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.
TD will continue to monitor and review the supply and demand situation of parking spaces at the above-mentioned areas and, where appropriate, take suitable measures to meet the public's demand for parking spaces.
(c)At present, the Luen Wo Market of Luen Wo Hui in Fanling is managed by LandsD. In line with a more flexible approach in the use of land resources, the vacant lot is open to short term lease application by any non-profit making local organisation that has a suitable land use proposal which can stimulate the local economy. Interested applicants may submit their applications to the District Lands Office concerned. It is understood that a local organisation has already applied to the North District Lands Office to lease the lot for a short term period for district community use. As for the long term development of the site, given that the Luen Wo Market is a Grade 3 historic building, the Government will, from a heritage conservation perspective, conduct a detailed study on how to revitalise the historic building.
(d)In general, the Development Bureau only considers revitalising those Government-owned historic buildings that are vacant or without planned uses.
The Old District Office North (ODON), which is a declared monument, is currently leased to the Scout Association of Hong Kong for use as its New Territories East Region Headquarters. As the Home Affairs Bureau supported extension of the lease in the regular review conducted last year, at present the Government has no plan to change the existing use of the premises. We will conduct regular reviews to decide whether the premises should continue to be leased to the Scout Association of Hong Kong. Therefore, there is currently no need for the Administration to formulate other revitalisation options for the ODON. If and when future reviews conclude that the existing uses of the ODON should be changed, the Administration will consider the uses of the building from the heritage conservation perspective.
As regards the former library building at Fu Hing Street, it is not on the Antiquities Advisory Board's list of 1 444 historic buildings and new items. At present, it serves as the office of the Slaughterhouse (Veterinary) Section of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD). FEHD is planning to relocate the said office elsewhere, and the relocation will be completed shortly. After the relocation project has been implemented, the Administration will consider the suitable uses of the building.
(e)On green initiative, the Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) is conducting a study for developing Greening Master Plans (GMPs) for the New Territories. In view of the extensive area of the New Territories, the study will mainly focus on core town centres, tourist attraction locations and major transportation routes. Shek Wu Hui in Sheung Shui, Luen Wo Hui in Fanling and Tai Po Hui are already included as the focus areas of the GMPs for the North and Tai Po districts.
In the process of developing the GMPs, CEDD will invite the relevant District Councils (DCs) and Rural Committees (RCs) to form District Participation Groups and join in the examination of the proposals prepared by the consultants. CEDD will also organise community forums to collect views of the public and major stakeholders. Furthermore, CEDD will invite members of the relevant DCs and RCs to site visits so as to ensure that the GMPs will meet public aspirations.
CEDD anticipates that the GMPs for the North and Tai Po districts will be developed by mid-2014. After the development of the GMPs, CEDD will apply for funds to implement the proposed greening works therein.
On environmental hygiene, FEHD's responsibility is to maintain a clean and hygienic environment in public places. Apart from providing street cleansing service, FEHD will also arrange special cleansing operations as and when the actual circumstances so warrant.
Ends/Wednesday, June 20, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:08