Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (December 9):
According to Report No. 65 of the Director of Audit published last month, the Education Bureau maintains a database on vacant school premises, which includes data on the proposed uses of the school premises and the number of years for which they have become vacant, etc. There are views in the community that the Government should maintain and make public similar types of data on government lands (in particular the lands rented out on short-term tenancy (STT)), so as to facilitate the public's monitoring and making recommendations on the uses and planning of such lands. Regarding the data on government lands which are rented out on STT, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Lands Department (LandsD) has set up a database on the lands rented out on STT; if LandsD has, of the details (set out in a table) of the lands resumed by LandsD upon expiry of the term of tenancy in each of the past three financial years, including (i) the locations of the lands, (ii) the land areas (square metres), (iii) STT numbers, (iv) the uses of the lands set out in the original STTs and (v) the proposed new uses of the lands; if LandsD has not, whether it will expeditiously set up such a database and undertake to submit such information to this Council within six months from now; if LandsD will not set up such a database, of the reasons for that;
(2) of the number of the lands currently rented out on STT to the same tenants for a consecutive period of over 30 months, and set out in a table (i) the locations of the lands, (ii) the land areas (square metres), (iii) STT numbers, (iv) the uses specified in STTs and (v) the dates on which the first STT was granted; if such information cannot be provided, whether LandsD will expeditiously set up such a database and undertake to submit such information to this Council within six months from now; if LandsD will not set up such a database, of the reasons for that; and
(3) as the Secretary for Development indicated at the Legislative Council meeting of January 21 this year that the Government had been carrying out a series of land use reviews, including reviews of the "Government, Institution or Community" sites, lands for other government uses as well as government lands across the territory which were currently vacant, rented out on STT or deployed for various other uses on a temporary basis, of the details and latest progress of such reviews; whether the authorities have put forward proposals in the light of the outcome of the reviews; if they have, of the respective numbers of those proposals which (i) have been implemented and (ii) involve changes in the planned land use?
My reply to Hon Wu's question is as follows:
(1) The Lands Department (LandsD) will generally arrange for the disposal of unallocated government land which may be put to gainful use according to the planned long-term use under Outline Zoning Plans or Outline Development Plans. Where the long-term use is yet to be determined or is not yet due for implementation, LandsD will try to put the site to appropriate temporary use(s), including temporary use by other government bureaux/departments or by parties outside the Government through short term tenancies (STTs). The short-term use of the land will be terminated at an appropriate time to tie in with the long-term use identified for the site or another temporary use which should be given priority in the light of changing circumstances. According to LandsD's records, 67, 49 and 23 STTs were terminated in the years of 2012-13, 2013-14 and 2014-15 respectively. Proposed new uses include re-tendering of the resumed STT site, specified long-term development use or Government works site. For details of the terminated STTs, please refer to the Annex.
(2) The STTs are normally granted for a term of not more than five years and thereafter monthly or quarterly, so that the short-term use of the land can, where necessary, be terminated at an appropriate time to tie in with the long-term use identified for the site or another temporary use which should be given priority in the light of changing circumstances. As at end-November 2015, there are over 5 000 valid STTs, of which over 90 per cent have tenancy taken up for a period of 30 months or more. Of these STTs which involve a wide range of uses, about 1 000 (accounting for approximately 60 per cent of the total area of STT sites) are for infrastructure, community and livelihood purposes such as railway projects, public rental housing projects, non-profit making uses and car parks; about 1 500 (accounting for approximately 10 per cent of the total area of STT sites) are related to small and medium enterprises such as the storage of goods, recovery and recycling, workshops/boatyards, shops and restaurants (including alfresco dining areas) and livestock keeping; and about 300 (accounting for approximately 6 per cent of the total area of STT sites) are for public utility uses such as electricity substations, pumphouses, bus depots and bus regulator kiosks. The remaining STTs involve other miscellaneous uses such as gardens, plant nurseries and access roads.
(3) With a view to increasing the housing land supply in the short to medium term, the Planning Department has carried out a series of land use reviews, including reviews on land currently vacant, under STTs, or under different short-term, Government, Institution or Community and other government uses, as well as Green Belt sites, etc. Through such efforts, we have identified some 150 potential housing sites, most of which can be made available in the five year period from 2014-15 to 2018-19 for providing over 210 000 flats, with over 70 per cent being public housing flats, subject to timely amendments to their respective statutory plans. As at end-November this year, we have initiated or completed the rezoning procedures for 62 sites, which are estimated to provide about 72 900 public and private housing units in total. We do not have the breakdown of sites which are vacant, under STTs or other short-term uses. Land use reviews on suitable sites and areas will continue, so as to identify more land for housing and other developments in the short to medium term.
Ends/Wednesday, December 9, 2015
Issued at HKT 15:12