Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho Chun-yan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (May 8):
The Planning Department (PlanD) has recently consulted members of the Yuen Long District Council on 10 planning applications for sites in Yuen Long. These applications are related to the sites in Kam Tin, Fung Lok Wai of Lau Fau Shan, Mai Po, Ngau Tam Mei, Nam Sang Wai and Lut Chau, Ma Tin Pok, Ha Ko Po Tsuen of Kam Tin and Yuen Lung Street. Most of these applications involve residential developments, while the rest of them are commercial, community facilities and nature conservation projects. Some Yuen Long residents have relayed to me their concern that the development projects involved in these applications may lead to a rapid growth in the district's population, thereby increasing the load on the traffic and other facilities in the district, as well as significantly impacting on the district's environment. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the total site area involved in the aforesaid applications and the area of government land therein; the number of residential blocks to be built, the estimated number of residential flats that can be provided, and the respective resultant increases in the district's population and residential density;
(b) whether PlanD has recently received other applications involving residential developments on sites in Yuen Long; if so, of the total number of such applications and their application numbers, the total site area involved and the area of government land therein, the number of residential blocks proposed to be built, the estimated number of residential flats that can be provided, and the respective resultant increases in the district's population and residential density;
(c) of the respective numbers of residential flats under construction and those completed but not yet occupied in Yuen Long at present;
(d) of the current volume/capacity ratios of the major roads in Yuen Long (including Castle Peak Road (Yuen Long Section), Kam Tin Road, Yuen Long Highways, San Tin Highway and Long Tin Road); of the respective load factors of various franchised bus routes and minibus routes in Yuen Long as well as the West Rail Line during peak hours; whether it has assessed the impacts of the works and the subsequent population increase arising from the aforesaid applications on the load of such roads and public transport facilities; if it has, of the details;
(e) given that at present shopping and leisure facilities in Yuen Long are concentrated in the town centre, and the pedestrian walkways and roads in the town centre are already very congested, whether it has assessed the impact of the population increase arising from the aforesaid applications on the load of the existing pedestrian walkways and roads in Yuen Long town centre; if it has, of the details;
(f) whether it has assessed the impacts of pond/land filling involved in the aforesaid applications on the drainage systems of the nearby areas and if such works will aggravate the problem of flooding; if it has, of the details;
(g) of the total Green Belt area in Yuen Long at present, and the respective areas for Conservation Area and wetland therein; whether the aforesaid applications involve any reduction in the Green Belt area; if so, of the area to be reduced and the respective areas of Conservation Area and wetland therein;
(h) whether it has assessed the impact of the population increase arising from the aforesaid applications on the load of the existing recreational facilities in Yuen Long; if it has, of the details;
(i) whether the authorities have plans to improve the roads, pedestrian walkways, public transport services, recreational facilities and drainage systems in Yuen Long to address the problems caused by the implementation of the development projects involved in the aforesaid applications; if they have, of the expenditure involved in such plans; and
(j) whether the aforesaid applications involve the Government's resumption of land and resettlement arrangements for residents; if so, how it plans to proceed with such work?
When processing planning applications, the Town Planning Board (TPB) will consider land use compatibility and whether the proposed development will bring about any adverse impact in planning terms. It will also consult the public. Upon receipt of a planning application, the TPB will forward the information of and any public views on the application via the Planning Department (PlanD) to the relevant government departments, which will in turn advise the TPB on the environmental, traffic, infrastructure and other impacts that the proposed development may cause to the district. When examining a planning application, apart from the information submitted by the applicant, the TPB or its committees will also take into account the advice of the relevant government departments, the local and public views, planning guidelines as well as the planning intention and circumstances of the site under application, in order to evaluate whether the land use under application is suitable for the site before making any decision.
Regarding the various parts of the question, the Administration's reply is as follows:
(a) The PlanD has recently conducted local consultations on 10 planning applications (Note 1) in Yuen Long involving residential developments. The total site area involved in the planning applications is about 300 hectares, among which about 90 hectares are government land. About 130 apartment buildings and about 1 400 houses will be built. If the applications are approved and the relevant developments eventually implemented, it is estimated that about 4 600 residential flats can be built and the population increase will be about 14 400.
(b) In addition to the aforesaid 10 planning applications, we are processing another four planning applications (Note 2) involving residential developments (non-Village Type Development) in Yuen Long. The total site area involved is about five hectares, among which about 1.8 hectares are government land. About three apartment buildings and about 75 houses will be built. If the applications are approved and the relevant developments eventually implemented, it is estimated that about 580 residential flats can be built and the population increase will be about 1 700.
(c) At present there are about 12 800 residential flats under construction in Yuen Long and the number of completed residential flats between 2011 and 2012 (i.e. projects that have obtained occupation permits) is around 1 300.
(d) and (e) Impacts on the major roads/pedestrian walkways in Yuen Long
In general, planning applications will be submitted to the TPB for consideration in accordance with the established procedures. In their applications, applicants have to submit an impact assessment of their development projects on the major roads and junctions in the area on the basis of their estimates on the future traffic volume upon the completion of their projects. If necessary, they may propose road improvement works to reduce the impacts of increased traffic to the nearby roads.
In 13 of the above-mentioned planning applications [i.e. planning applications no. A/YL-KTN/370（Kam Tin）, A/YL-MP/202（Mai Po）, A/YL-KTN/371（Kam Tin）, A/YL-NTM/274（Ngau Tam Mei）, A/YL-NSW/218（Nam Sang Wai and Lut Chau）, A/YL-MP/205（Mai Po）, A/YL-KTN/378（Ha Ko Po Tsuen of Kam Tin）, A/YL/196 (Yuen Lung Street), A/YL-NSW/216 (Nam Sang Wai), A/YL-KTS/590 (Kam Tin), A/YL-PS/407 (Ping Shan), A/YL-LFS/235 (Lau Fau Shan) and Y/YL/5 (Ma Tin Pok)], the information provided by the Transport Department (TD) indicates that the current volume/capacity ratios of the related roads in these planning applications, including the above mentioned Castle Peak Road (Yuen Long Section), Kam Tin Road, etc., are all within planning limits. With impacts on the traffic in the area within acceptable limits, the above planning applications have been endorsed by TD's assessment.
As for the remaining planning application A/YL-LFS/224 (Fung Lok Wai of Lau Fau Shan), the TD points out that it is a low density residential cum conservation development located in the wetland area in the north-west of Yuen Long Industrial Estate, far away from Yuen Long Town and other major roads. Fuk Shun Street is the only existing road access to the area but it is substandard in terms of width. Taking into account the traffic assessment for the development, TD considered it necessary to require the widening works of Fuk Shun Street (which should be widened to the standard width of 7.3 metres with pedestrian walkways along) be implemented together with the development project so as to meet the traffic needs arising from the development.
Impact on the public transport services in Yuen Long
At present, there are 57 franchised bus routes and 41 green minibus (GMB) routes in Yuen Long District. The average occupancy rates of most of these routes range from over 30 per cent to over 70 per cent during peak hours. Individual routes with stronger demands have average occupancy rates of more than 80 per cent during peak hours. Some GMB routes are fully occupied during peak hours. Regarding the West Rail Line (WRL), its busiest section (i.e. from Kam Sheung Road Station to Tsuen Wan West Station) has an average occupancy rate of about 70 per cent during peak hours. Upon commencement of service of the Tai Wai to Hung Hom section of Shatin to Central Link in 2018, the number of train compartments of WRL trains will be increased from the existing seven to ultimately eight. By then, the overall load capacity of the WRL will be enhanced.
To meet transport demand in a timely manner, the TD and various public transport operators will review from time to time the demand and supply of public transport services in various districts in response to developments and population changes in these districts (including Yuen Long District), and will increase service provision or arrange provision of new services according to needs.
(f) If changes of land use arising from development under planning application may possibly affect the drainage of the areas concerned, the Drainage Services Department (DSD) will require the applicant to submit a Drainage Impact Assessment (DIA) report and implement the proposed mitigation measures as contained in the approved assessment report. Regarding other planning applications for smaller scale developments, the DSD will also require the applicants to submit drainage proposals and implement the measures as contained in the approved proposals. The purpose is to ensure that the development projects will not increase the risk of flooding in the areas concerned.
The DSD completed in 2011 the Drainage Master Plan Review Study for Yuen Long and the North District, which has set out a series of improvement works to the drainage systems formulated to meet the needs of planning for developments up to 2030 to cater for the increase of stormwater run-off arising from the developments in these areas. For the above-mentioned 14 planning applications, the DSD has suggested that the applicants should submit DIA reports upon detailed development design in future and implement the mitigation measures as proposed in the approved report so as to comply with the Drainage Master Plan in Yuen Long District and to ensure that the risk of flooding in the areas concerned will not increase as a result of the developments.
(g) Currently, the total area of all "Green Belt" zones in Yuen Long is around 1 320 hectares, that of "Conservation Area" zones is around 2 160 hectares, "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Comprehensive Development and Wetland Enhancement Area" (OU(CDWEA)) zones around 410 hectares, and "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Comprehensive Development to include Wetland Restoration Area" (OU(CDWRA)) zones around 120 hectares. Regarding the above 14 planning applications, three of them (Note 3) involve "OU(CDWEA)" and "OU(CDWRA)" zones. The total site area of the three planning applications is around 260 hectares, of which 190 hectares are reserved for conservation purposes as stated in the said applications. Moreover, the planning applications concerned have to comply with the requirements of TPB Planning Guidelines No. 12B: Application for Developments within Deep Bay Area under Section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance.
(h) The recreational facilities provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) in Yuen Long include six sports centres, three swimming complexes, three squash centres, two sports grounds, two major parks and nearly one hundred parks, playgrounds and sitting-out areas. In the past year, the average utilisation rates for the arena of such sports centres, squash centres and the 11-a-side natural turf soccer pitches in the sports grounds were around 80 per cent, 50 per cent and 100 per cent respectively.
To enhance the facilities of sports centres in the district so as to cater for district development and the demands of local residents, the LCSD is carrying out the "Open space in Area 117, Tin Shui Wai" and "Public Library and Indoor Recreation Centre in Area 3, Yuen Long" projects, which will provide an additional 11-a-side artificial turf soccer pitch cum 15-a-side rugby pitch and a sports centre in the district. The two projects are expected to be completed in mid-2014 and late 2015 respectively. Moreover, the LCSD is carrying out the "Construction of sitting-out area at Shap Pat Heung Shui Tsiu San Tsuen" and "Construction of multi-purpose sand court in Tin Shui Wai" projects, which will provide more sitting-out facilities to local residents and introduce sand court facilities with a view to further enhancing the ancillary recreational facilities in the district. The two projects are expected to be completed in mid-2013 and mid-2014 respectively. The above planning applications will not have adverse impact on the services of recreational facilities in the district.
(i) Improvement to roads, pedestrian walkways and public transport services in Yuen Long
For the planning applications mentioned above, the developers who plan and develop residential developments in the district have to conduct traffic impact assessments in relation to the planning and engineering studies for the development projects, and formulate road improvement or widening proposals. The studies should contain in-depth examination on the need and detailed proposals of the road improvement works. For the time being, the Administration does not have any concrete details and the associated costs.
Regarding public transport services, as pointed out in the reply to part (d), the TD and the public transport services operators will review from time to time the supply and demand of the services in response to the development and demographic changes in Yuen Long, and will enhance the services or arrange for new services on a need basis to ensure that the demand can be met.
Improving the recreational facilities in Yuen Long
The LCSD will continue to keep an eye on the development of Yuen Long, and provide suitable recreational facilities for residents of Yuen Long in response to major factors including the population growth, demand for recreational facilities, and the supply and usage rate of existing recreational facilities in the district, and by making reference to the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.
Improving the drainage systems of Yuen Long
Regarding the review study mentioned in the reply to part (f), it is proposed that a series of drainage facilities (preliminary estimated cost of about HK$2.6 billion (Note 4)) should be constructed in Yuen Long in order to enhance its flood prevention capacity to fulfil the development needs up to 2030, and meet public expectations on enhancement of flood prevention capacity. The DSD will implement the relevant improvement works progressively in the next few years.
(j) Most of the land involved in the above planning applications is private land. If the planning applications are approved, the development projects should be implemented by the owners of the relevant private land without involving any resumption of private land and removal compensation by the Government.
(1) The application numbers of the subject planning applications are A/YL-KTN/370、A/YL-LFS/224、A/YL-MP/202、A/YL-KTN/371、A/YL-NTM/274、A/YL-NSW/218、A/YL-MP/205、A/YL-KTN/378、A/YL/196 and Y/YL/5.
(2) The application numbers of the subject planning applications are A/YL-NSW/216、A/YL-KTS/590、A/YL-PS/407 and A/YL-LFS/235.
(3) The application numbers involved are A/YL-LFS/224、A/YL-NSW/216 and A/YL-NSW/218.
(4) The cost of the relevant works is subject to revision upon detailed design.
Ends/Wednesday, May 8, 2013
Issued at HKT 16:32