Task Force on Land Supply holds sixth meeting

The Task Force on Land Supply (Task Force) held its sixth meeting today (December 19). The meeting discussed two issues relating to optimising the utilisation of land in the New Territories (NT), namely tapping into the potential of private land and village type development in the NT.
The Task Force Chairman, Mr Stanley Wong, said the Task Force noted that major developers are believed to be holding no less than 1 000 hectares of agricultural land in the NT. In the past, many planning applications which involved development of private land were unsuccessful mainly due to land use incompatibility and inadequate infrastructural capacity. Even for the successful cases, the scale of development was relatively small.
Mr Wong said, "Apart from invoking statutory power to resume private land for public purposes and lease modification or land exchange applications, the Task Force considered that during the upcoming public engagement, Members can explore with the community whether, and if so, how to make better use of private land (especially agricultural land in the NT) through public-private participation for more productive uses. For example, it is for consideration whether the Government should provide infrastructural facilities in the vicinity of private land or relaxing the plot ratio as appropriate, hence facilitating higher-density developments in the wider area including the private land, while requiring the private developers to provide affordable housing apart from private flats at the site to meet the housing needs of the society. When proceeding with projects under the public-private collaboration, the existing town planning and land administration regimes (including the land premium arrangement) should continue to apply."
Mr Wong also said that the Task Force noted some concerns in the community over public-private collaboration. Hence, the discussion must be premised on the understanding that the Government would set up a fair, open and transparent mechanism to objectively process all applications and select suitable ones for collaboration in accordance with the established criteria. If the use of private land could be optimised while capitalising on the efficiency of the private sector, Members in general believed that it will bring positive impact on Hong Kong's housing supply especially in the short to medium term.
On village type development in the NT, currently there are about 700 Village Type Development ("V") zones, mainly distributed across the 642 recognised villages. While there were suggestions that the Government should optimise the use of land within "V" zones, the Task Force noted that the zoning is primarily intended for development of small houses by indigenous villagers, and reflects the rural setting for indigenous villages. Their change in use for high-density development is to some extent constrained.
The Task Force Vice-chairman, Dr Greg Wong said, "As regards the unleased or unallocated land in "V" zones, the Task Force recognises that a considerable portion of such land involves empty spaces or passageways between existing small houses, slopes, and other fragmented or irregular land parcels. Even if individual land parcels are relatively more complete in shape, their development potential may be confined by factors such as topography, area, existing infrastructural constraints, etc. Hence, these land could not offer much help in increasing land supply."
The Task Force will continue to examine other different land supply options.
The discussion papers of this meeting have been uploaded onto the Development Bureau's website (http://www.devb.gov.hk/en/boards_and_committees/task_force_on_land_supply/index.html).

Ends/Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Issued at HKT 22:13