Following is a question by the Hon Hiu Chi-fung and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):
In 2013, the authorities began the statutory procedure for amending the Central District (Extension) Outline Zoning Plan to rezone a site in the Central promenade, which is 150 metres long and has an area of about 0.3 hectare, from "Open Space" to "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Military Use (1)", with a view to setting it aside for use as a military dock by the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison (the Garrison). However, as the above statutory procedure was subsequently challenged by way of a judicial review, it has not been concluded so far. The Government has indicated that the Garrison has undertaken to open the military dock area as part of the promenade for public use when the military dock is not in military use. The site, which has not yet been handed over to the Garrison, is currently overgrown with weeds and enclosed by wire fences, thereby barring access or use by members of the public. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) as the authorities have indicated that since the military dock is a military facility, it is not suitable to open the site for holding any public event before the site is handed over to the Garrison, of the justifications behind such remark;
(2) whether the authorities have discussed with the Garrison the temporary opening of the site for public use; if so, of the date(s) and outcome of the discussion(s); if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether the authorities have considered making the site available for temporary uses (e.g. entrusting the use of the site to government departments); if so, of the details;
(4) of the time, as anticipated by the authorities, when the statutory procedure for rezoning the site will be concluded; and
(5) of the respective annual amounts of various items of expenditure related to the site since the completion of the military dock; and the respective amounts of the various items of the relevant estimated expenditure for 2017-2018?
The site mentioned in the question is the Central Military Dock (CMD). According to the original plan, the Government will hand over the CMD to the People's Liberation Army Hong Kong Garrison (the Garrison) after completion of construction works and all the necessary procedures. Construction of the dock has been substantially completed in 2013. However, the statutory planning procedures for zoning of the CMD site to "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Military Use (1)" have been under judicial review proceedings since 2014 and are yet to be completed.
Regarding the judicial review concerned, an organisation applied for leave from the Court of First Instance to bring judicial review against the Town Planning Board's decision on the zoning of the CMD site to "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Military Use (1)" in May 2014. The Court of First Instance granted leave on July 21, 2014. The organisation also applied for a Protective Costs Order from the Court of First Instance in July 2014. The substantive judicial review proceedings would have to put on hold until the court had reached a decision on the application for the Protective Costs Order. The Court of First Instance dismissed the organisation's application for Protective Costs Order on April 30, 2015. The organisation then applied for leave to appeal on the decision on the Protective Costs Order from the Court of Appeal on May 14, 2015. The Court of Appeal just dismissed the appeal on February 16, 2017. The substantive judicial review hearing is yet to commence. We could not estimate when the relevant proceedings could be completed.
The CMD is a military facility. Pending the handing over of the CMD site to the Garrison, the Lands Department (LandsD) undertakes the daily management of the site. The Government considers it not suitable to open up the CMD site for any public activities before it is handed over to the Garrison. To facilitate effective management, the LandsD has fenced off the site on government land managed by the LandsD pending the handover to the relevant party. The expenditure is about $175,000 per annum mainly for hiring of security guard service. The expenses on maintenance and repairs are about $100,000 per annum. The Government will continue to keep in view the progress of the judicial review and take forward the follow-up actions required to complete the handover process as appropriate.
Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:45