Following is a question by the Hon Gary Fan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 17):
It has been reported that as mentioned by the Secretary for Development openly in September this year, the Government has 2,100 hectares of vacant land for residential use at present, of which 1,200 hectares zoned "Village Type Development" can be used for low-density residential development, including New Territories small houses; and excluding that portion of land and the area covering slopes and roads which are not suitable for development as well as the 167 hectares of residential sites in North East New Territories, less than 400 hectares of land is available for residential development throughout Hong Kong. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the area of the aforesaid "Village Type Development" sites which have been reserved for building small houses, as well as the area of land granted in the past five years and the estimated area of land to be granted in the next five years for building small houses, broken down by District Council district;
(b) after excluding the land reserved for building small houses, whether the Government will consider changing the use of the remaining "Village Type Development" sites for public housing development; if it will not, of the reasons for that; and
(c) of the Government's justifications for not first utilising the vacant government land currently available for residential development but instead conducting the North East New Territories New Development Areas Planning and Engineering Study, which can supply only 167 hectares of residential sites?
My reply to the Hon Gary Fan's question is as follows:
(a) Land under the "Village Type Development" zoning on statutory plans scatter across the territory and is mainly located in recognised indigenous villages in the New Territories. In general, these sites are not suitable for large-scale development because of their sporadic locations and infrastructural constraints. Of the 1,201.2 hectares of unleased and unallocated government land in the "Village Type Development" zone, after excluding roads/passageways, man-made slopes and land allocated under the Simplified Temporary Land Allocation (STLA) procedures, there remain 932.9 hectares of land. Their distribution by districts is at Annex.
Between January 2007 and the end of September this year, the Lands Department (LandsD) approved a total of 6,336 small house applications. Parameters such as topography, geographical environment, individual lot size and distribution of these small house developments vary from case to case. Some of them also involve private land. As the compilation of statistics on the total area of land allocated for small house development in the past five years will be labour and time intensive, we regret that we are unable to provide such information.
LandsD currently has in hand over 10 000 small house applications. The demand for small house development will change with factors such as birth and growth of indigenous villagers. Besides, it is up to the indigenous villagers to decide whether to apply for small house development having regard to their personal circumstances and wishes. Not all eligible indigenous villagers aged 18 years or above will submit an application. The Government does not have information on the future demand for building small houses and is thus unable to provide an overall projection.
(b) and (c) Under the prevailing small house policy, the Government needs to reserve land for small house development. The main planning intention of the "Village Type Development" zone on existing statutory plans which lies within indigenous villages in the New Territories is for small house development. As mentioned above, these sites are generally not suitable for large-scale development.
As regards land for public housing development, the Planning Department (PlanD) and the Housing Department liaise closely on the issue and will continue to identify suitable sites for public housing development. Of the 952.5 hectares of unleased or unallocated government land which are currently zoned "Residential" or "Commercial/ Residential", after deducting roads/passageways, man-made slopes, land allocated under the STLA procedures and fragmented sites (sites less than 0.05 hectares in area), there remain 391.5 hectares of land. To meet Hong Kong people's demand for housing and other social and economic developments, the Government needs to continue to expand land resources and increase land supply, which include proceeding with the planning of North East New Territories New Development Areas.
On this front, the Government is adopting a multi-pronged approach to actively expand land resources and build up a land reserve. To increase land supply, the Government has taken six measures, including releasing industrial land; exploring the option of reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour; rock caverns development; looking into the use of "green belt areas"; examining "Government, Institution or Community" sites and examining agricultural land in North District/Yuen Long currently used mainly for industrial purposes or temporary storage, or which is deserted. PlanD is also conducting a number of planning and engineering studies on new development areas, as well as land use studies and reviews. These initiatives cover more than 2,500 hectares of land (not including any land under the initiatives of reclamation on an appropriate scale outside Victoria Harbour and rock caverns development).
Ends/Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Issued at HKT 15:30