Following is a question by the Hon Sin Chung-kai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 20):
There are five major short-term sources of land supply for private housing, namely land sold by the Government, property development projects of the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL), redevelopment projects of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), projects subject to lease modification/land exchange and private redevelopment projects not subject to lease modification/land exchange. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council of:
(a) the number of residential flats that have been/can be provided from each of the aforesaid sources each year since 2009-2010 (set out in the appendix attached);
(b) the number of development projects involved in the land for private housing supplied from each of the aforesaid sources each year since 2009-2010; among these development projects, the respective numbers of those which have been completed, are in progress, and have not yet commenced works; the completion date/anticipated completion date of each development project and the number of residential flats that have been/can be provided; and
(c) the measures taken by the authorities to make the development projects mentioned in (b) which have not yet commenced works to commence works expeditiously and make developers put up the flats for sale in the market as soon as possible?
My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows -
(a) and (b) The sources of private housing land supply include sites sold by the Government, railway property development projects, projects of the Urban Renewal Authority, development projects subject to lease modification/land exchange and private redevelopment projects not subject to lease modification/land exchange. The Transport and Housing Bureau (THB) is responsible for monitoring the supply of first-hand private residential flats. Concerning parts (a) and (b) of the question, relevant information in calendar year provided by THB is set out at Annex.
(c) For any development project, the lot owner is required to complete the construction of the minimum gross floor area (GFA) specified in the land grant or lease conditions and obtain an occupation permit from the Building Authority (BA) within the Building Covenant (BC) period under the land grant or lease conditions. The Government will take into account the related factors, such as development scale and complexity as well as the circumstances of each development, in setting an appropriate BC period for the development project. In general, the BC period for residential developments varies from 48 to 72 months from the date of the land lease document. Non-compliance with BC requirements amounts to a breach of land grant or lease conditions.
Should the lot owner of a development project anticipate that he will not be able to complete the construction of the minimum GFA specified in the land grant or lease conditions and obtain the occupation permit from the BA within the BC period, he is required, under normal circumstances, to apply to the Lands Department (LandsD) for an extension of the BC period with justifications. If the application for extending the BC period is approved, the applicant will be required to comply with the conditions imposed by LandsD, including the payment of a premium. Hence, the lot owner will have to pay for any delay in the development. In the event that the lot owner refuses to pay the premium or the Government refuses to extend the BC period, the Government may re-enter the site under the Government Rights (Re-entry and Vesting Remedies) Ordinance (Cap. 126).
Some suggested that the Government might set a shorter BC period so as to shorten the time from land grant to sale of residential units in the market. The Government adopts an open attitude and is monitoring the actual situation of property development for the purpose of considering whether there is room for adjusting the general criteria for setting the BC period. During the process, the Government must take into account whether a shortened BC period will be too constrained in terms of detailed planning and construction time as to affect building quality and bring pressure to the construction industry.
Moreover, while developers could adjust their marketing strategies from time to time in accordance with market situation and commercial consideration, as observed, they will normally sell or launch pre-sale of residential units in order to secure their investment returns as early as possible, as well as to make new investments. On the other hand, some developers will put their completed units for rental according to their business strategy, but this will also increase supply of residential units. The Chief Executive announced on August 30, 2012 a package of 10 short and medium term housing and land supply measures, including speeding up the processing of pre-sale consent applications. Other than this, the Government does not have any plan to introduce measures requiring developers to put up their flats for sale in the market within a prescribed period.
Ends/Wednesday, February 20, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:51