Following is a question by the Dr Hon Kwok Ka-ki and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (April 20):
At present, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) conducts a freezing survey on the commencement date of the implementation of a redevelopment project (i.e. the date on which a notice in respect of that project is first published in the Gazette), and makes acquisition offers to the property owners in the proposed redevelopment project areas after all necessary planning procedures for the project have been completed. In the event that URA cannot reach agreements with the property owners concerned on issues such as acquisition prices and vesting of titles, it may, under the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (Cap. 563), apply to the Government requesting it to resume the relevant titles under the Lands Resumption Ordinance (Cap. 124) so that the relevant titles would revert to the Government. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether it knows the following information in respect of each of the redevelopment projects of URA since 2010 (set out the information by name of project in the table in Annex 1):
(i) the commencement date of the implementation of the project;
(ii) the number of tenants at the time of the freezing survey;
(iii) the number of registered tenants who had moved out of the properties before URA completed the acquisition of the relevant titles or the relevant titles reverted to the Government;
(iv) the date(s) on which URA made its acquisition offers to the property owners;
(v) the number of registered tenants involved in those properties for which URA completed acquisition within six months after making its acquisition offers;
(vi) the number of registered tenants involved in those properties for which URA completed acquisition within the period from the seventh to 12th month after making its acquisition offers;
(vii) the number of registered tenants involved in those properties for which URA completed acquisition within the period from the 13th to 24th month after making its acquisition offers;
(viii) the date(s) on which the relevant property titles reverted to the Government (if applicable); and
(ix) the number of registered tenants involved in those properties the titles of which reverted to the Government; and
(2) given that it often takes a long time for URA to complete the acquisition of property titles or for the Government to resume the relevant titles within the proposed redevelopment project areas, and that prior to the completion of such, URA will not formally process the compensation/ex-gratia payments and rehousing arrangements that the affected tenants may receive, whether the Government has evaluated the distress that such situation may cause to the affected tenants, and whether it has advised URA to make improvements by expeditiously processing the compensation/ex-gratia payments and rehousing arrangements that the affected domestic and non-domestic tenants may receive?
(1) Since 2010, land titles for the following eleven redevelopment projects have been resumed by the Government under the Lands Resumption Ordinance (Cap 124) upon application by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in accordance with the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (Cap 563) are set out in Annex 2.
Among these eleven redevelopment projects, about 1 000 domestic tenants and 80 non-domestic tenants were involved in the acquisitions that were completed within 24 months after acquisition offers were made. There were about 250 domestic tenants and 50 non-domestic tenants involved after the land titles reverted to the Government under the redevelopment projects. Since the URA would not be able to enter some of the flats to conduct the survey during the period of the Freezing Survey or some residents would move to live in the affected flats after the survey, the total number of tenants processed by the URA would generally be greater than the number of tenants at the time of the survey. Among these eleven projects, four projects completed land titles reversion to the Government within one and a half years after acquisition offers were made, five within two years, one within two and a half years and one within three years.
(2) The URA would carry out social impact assessment to assess the impacts on the area arising from the redevelopment project and the needs of the affected residents, and propose relevant mitigation measures.
After announcing the commencement of the redevelopment project, the URA would distribute leaflets to the tenants affected by the project and conduct public briefings. The social workers of the urban renewal social service teams would immediately provide the households in need with appropriate assistance, including tenancy matters, elderly support and emotional support/counselling, with a view to facilitating a deeper understanding of the details of property acquisition and minimising their worries about the redevelopment.
When authorisation was obtained for implementing the redevelopment project, the URA would make acquisition offers to the property owners within the redevelopment area as soon as possible. Upon successful acquisition and becoming the owner of the flats, the URA would immediately carry out the relevant assessment process for the tenants and to provide rehousing arrangements to the eligible tenants, such as public rental housing units or rehousing units of the URA, or offering ex-gratia compensation to facilitate removal. In the event that it could not acquire the land titles within the redevelopment project area, the URA would make an application for land resumption by the Government in accordance with the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (Cap 563). The Government would resume the land titles under the Lands Resumption Ordinance (Cap 124). Upon reversion of the land titles to the Government, the URA, in the capacity of the Government's agent, would process expeditiously the rehousing and relevant compensation arrangement for the tenants of the flats which could not be acquired previously.
Since the URA does not have property titles of individual flats before the acquisition is completed, the URA is not able to undertake assessment on the rehousing and compensation arrangement for the tenants of the flats. Moreover, when the concerned tenants moved out after receiving rehousing assistance or ex-gratia compensation, the owners could still rent out the vacant portions to other tenants. According to the prevailing arrangement, the new tenants would also be offered ex-gratia payment. If compensation were granted more than once for the same occupied portion of a flat, it would not be a fair and optimal use of public resources.
Ends/Wednesday, April 20, 2016
Issued at HKT 15:30