Following is a question by the Hon Chung Kwok-pan and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (December 18):
Some members of the industrial sector have pointed out that despite the Government's efforts to promote the development of various industries in recent years, it has not put forward any policy to boost the development of industries. Along with the upgrading and restructuring of industries, industrial activities in Hong Kong have evolved from focusing on the manufacturing process in the past into diversified developments comprising various parts such as design, research and development, market intelligence, management, after-sale services, marketing and exhibitions, etc. Meanwhile, with the increase in labour costs on the Mainland and the appreciation of Renminbi against Hong Kong dollars in recent years, quite a number of Hong Kong manufacturers who have set up factories on the Mainland intend to relocate the high-value added manufacturing processes back to Hong Kong. Regarding policies and measures to boost the development of industries, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it will, as and when appropriate, review and revise the definition of "industrial use" promulgated by the Town Planning Board, and plan afresh the industrial land and related facilities in the territory, so as to boost the development of industries and related businesses in Hong Kong, encourage manufacturers to return to Hong Kong to develop the industries and facilitate their upgrading and restructuring, so as to address the excessive uniformity of Hong Kong's industrial structure;
(b) given that the Planning Department conducted Area Assessments of Industrial Land in the Territory (Area Assessments) in 2000, 2005 and 2009 respectively to identify suitable industrial land to be rezoned for non-industrial use (including residential use), of the progress of the Area Assessments being conducted currently; whether the authorities will, in response to the latest development needs of Hong Kong's economy and industries, examine the demand for industrial land in Hong Kong through the Area Assessments; and
(c) since the current definition of "industrial use" provides that the usable floor area for showroom use in an industrial building must not exceed 20%, but there have been comments that marketing and exhibitions are important parts of industrial activities, whether the Government will examine the relaxation of this percentage to reduce the barriers to revitalising industrial land?
Land, a scarce resource in Hong Kong, is essential for providing more residential flats and solving the housing problem, as well as for facilitating social and economic development. The Government also needs land to provide public and social facilities and to address our vision for a better living environment. The Development Bureau (DEVB) is responsible for land resources and will continue to adopt a multi-pronged approach to optimise the use of existing land and create new land in order to meet the demand for land for the sustainable development of our community.
Suitable land resources are required for the sustained growth of various industries (including industrial activities) and our economy as a whole. In support of this, DEVB will continue to release land for commercial/business and other suitable uses to the market through its land supply and land use planning measures. In addition, DEVB will support the relevant policy bureaux to implement their various industrial policies. DEVB has been co-operating with the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau to identify and allocate suitable sites for developing facilities managed by public bodies such as Industrial Estates and the Science Park in order to promote industrial activities and scientific research. The two bureaux have also been taking forward the "hotel only" scheme by means of specific land sale and lease modification conditions so that the market can respond to the growing demand for hotel rooms arising from the increase in number of tourists. DEVB has also been working with the Environment Bureau to develop the EcoPark which allocates land for lease by the environmental industry. DEVB will continue to work on this front, with a view to ensuring our limited developable land could be put to the optimal use and supporting Hong Kong's overall economic and social development.
When considering land supply for individual industries and handling economic activities being affected by new developments or urban renewal, we need to take into account whether the industries concerned could take the opportunity to upgrade from the existing low value-added operation mode to a higher niche, so as to enhance their development potential and to utilise the land resources most effectively at the same time.
My replies to different parts of the question are as follows:
(a) and (b) The Town Planning Board (TPB) would review and revise the planned uses (including the definition of "Industrial Use" on the statutory plans) from time to time based on the prevailing social and economic needs. As a matter of fact, the current definition of "Industrial Use" on the statutory plans is much broader than commonly known "factories", e.g., the legal definition of "Factory" under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance. "Industrial Use" on the statutory plans now covers some uses related to industrial processes as well as the relevant activities including training, research, design and development, quality control and packaging, etc. Besides, the uses that are always permitted under the "Industrial" zone have been widened to include "Office Related to Industrial Use", "Information Technology and Telecommunications Industries"and "Research, Design and Development Centre". Apart from updating and expanding the definition of "Industrial Use", TPB has introduced the "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Business" ("OU(Business)") zone in order to provide greater flexibility in the use of industrial land. For buildings within areas zoned "OU(Business)", redevelopment or conversion of old industrial buildings into commercial and non-polluting industrial uses (including offices, information technology, telecommunications and other creative industries) does not require applications to TPB at all.
To align with the latest development of industries (including industrial activities) in Hong Kong, the Planning Department (PlanD) conducted three rounds of Area Assessments of Industrial Land in the Territory in 2000, 2005 and 2009 to timely and properly plan for and utilise the industrial land in Hong Kong. For example, the 2009 Assessment suggested rezoning about 60 hectares of industrial land for other uses including commercial uses. PlanD has started the latest round of Area Assessment since end-March 2013, the main purpose of which is to investigate the latest utilisation of industrial land and the possibility of converting some into other uses. The review will also forecast the demand for land by local industries (especially the manufacturing industry) so as to provide more comprehensive information for the relevant studies. The whole study is expected to be completed in 2014.
(c) According to the TPB Guidelines for Use/Development within "Industrial" Zone promulgated in September 2007, ancillary showroom use of up to 20% of the total usable floor area of an industrial firm in the same premises or building will be permitted without application. Motor-vehicle showroom use is also permitted as of right on the ground floor of an industrial building. The guidelines aim to allow some flexibility for non-manufacturing processes and industrial-related supporting activities to be carried out in the "Industrial" zone, while maintaining the general planning intention as well as a sufficient supply of industrial floor area.
Though there is currently no plan to change the relevant guidelines and regulations, the Government has implemented measures to revitalise industrial buildings since April 1, 2010. This has effectively reduced the barriers of revitalising former industrial sites and facilitated the redevelopment and wholesale conversion of old industrial buildings, so as to better utilise land resources and provide more floor space for suitable uses to meet Hong Kong's changing social and economic needs.
Ends/Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Issued at HKT 14:54