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LCQ4: Public participation in the work of the Town Planning Board

Following is a question by the Hon Wong Yuk-man and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (April 16):

Question:

Earlier on, the Town Planning Board (TPB) completed consideration of an application for rezoning the southern portion of the former campus site of the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) in Kowloon Tong to "Residential (Group B)".  During consideration of the application, TPB received over 20 000 submissions opposing the application.  Moreover, TPB is currently processing an application for converting the office floors of Hung Hom Bay Centre to a hotel.  It has been reported that the application is also opposed by quite a number of residents in that district.  Regarding public participation in the work of TPB, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that at present, members of the public may convey to TPB their views on the plans and amendments thereto as well as applications for planning permissions, only by means of written submissions and attending TPB's meetings, but they may not participate directly in the vetting and approval of such applications, whether the Government has reviewed the adequacy of public participation in the existing vetting and approval mechanism; if it has not, when it will review the mechanism; and

(2) given that all the unofficial members of TPB are to be appointed by the Chief Executive under section 2(1) of the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap. 131), of the criteria based on which the Chief Executive determines the candidates for unofficial members; whether it will consider appointing more members of the public to TPB?

Reply:

President,

The Town Planning Board (TPB) is an independent statutory body which performs its statutory planning functions under the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) (Cap. 131).  When considering statutory plans or planning applications, TPB will take into account a number of relevant factors, including planning intention, land use compatibility, traffic and infrastructural capacities, and the impacts of the proposed development on surrounding areas, etc.  TPB will, in accordance with TPO, invite the public to submit representations and comments on the draft statutory plans, and submit comments on the planning applications.  Hearing will also be arranged by TPB according to TPO to hear the oral submissions of representators and commenters direct so as to consider their views.

My reply to the two-part question is as follows:

(1) As mentioned above, under the current statutory planning procedure, the public can submit representations and/or comments on the draft statutory plans and planning applications, and also attend the meetings of TPB to make oral submissions direct in relation to the draft statutory plans.  Before making recommendations to the Chief Executive in Council (CE in C), or deciding on the planning applications, TPB will thoroughly consider the views of representators and commenters.

Besides, when submitting its recommendations on the draft statutory plans to CE in C, TPB will, in accordance with TPO, submit together the representations and comments for CE in C's consideration.

The Government considers that the current statutory planning procedures under TPO have already provided for appropriate arrangements for consideration of public views.

(2) To appoint appropriate non-official members to TPB, it has been a standing practice for the Government to take into account the candidates' expertise and experience, as well as their fields relating to planning and development (such as architecture, environment, engineering, law, surveying, commerce and finance, academics and social services, etc.).

Among the 36 members of the new term of TPB commenced on April 1, 2014, 30 (i.e. 83%) are non-official members.


Ends/Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:30

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