Task Force on Land Supply holds tenth meeting

The Task Force on Land Supply (Task Force) held its tenth meeting today (February 13). The meeting mainly discussed public utility facility sites and the feasibility of housing development above transport infrastructure. The Task Force also noted a number of ongoing measures which could increase or expedite land supply in the short to medium term. 
The Task Force Chairman, Mr Stanley Wong, said the Task Force noted that before the land lease granted for public utility facilities is due to expire, the Government will, in general, review whether there is a need to retain the land for its original use in accordance with the existing mechanism. The Government will also review as appropriate the development potential of individual sites in the context of planning studies on individual areas. Taking the sites for telephone exchange and related use as an example, the Task Force noted that 81 sites are currently granted to licencees for the purpose of telephone exchange and related use. The total area of these sites is only about 17 hectares and most of the sites are relatively small, with only a few large sites located on flat land in the urban areas. For these public utility facility sites such as depots, public transport interchanges and telephone exchange, the Task Force recommended the Government to explore whether those sites with larger footprint and in relatively prime location had the development potential, including that for topside development.
Regarding the feasibility of housing development above transport infrastructure, the Task Force noted the relevant key considerations on the construction of massive podium deck over existing transport infrastructure (e.g. major roads, railways and railway depots) for housing development.
Mr Wong said, "There are examples of topside development over transport infrastructure in Hong Kong, but the general approach is that the planning, design and construction of the transport infrastructure and housing development atop are carried out concurrently in order to better integrate the topside development and infrastructure facilities, and resolve complex interface issues. Decking over existing transport infrastructure for housing development is not unprecedented, demonstrating that the suggestion per se is not technically infeasible; nonetheless, the existing transport infrastructure facilities, which have been completed for a period of time, would impose certain constraints onto the planning, design and construction of topside housing development thereafter, rendering the project more complicated as compared to cases adopting an integral approach at the outset."
Mr Wong added that Members considered that when planning transport infrastructure and other public facilities in future, the Government should consider how best the topside of these facilities could be utilised from the perspective of integrated and three-dimensional planning, so as to provide more usable space to meet the needs for housing, open space and other community facilities.
As regards the existing transport infrastructure, if the suggestion of topside housing or other developments were to be further explored, the Government would need to identify sites with development potential and carry out detailed studies on various issues, including compatibility of the topside housing development and the surrounding environment, as well as the traffic, environment and visual impact. Besides, relevant statutory procedures will also apply. Depending on the circumstances of individual sites, Members were generally of the view that the suggestion, if proven technically feasible, could only be considered as a land supply option in the medium to long term.
Apart from the above, the Task Force also reviewed several ongoing measures which could increase or expedite land supply, including better use of vacant school premises, better use of "Government, Institution or Community" sites, better use of industrial buildings, and streamlining development control procedures to expedite approval process.
The Task Force Vice-chairman, Dr Greg Wong said, "The Task Force agreed that these measures would go some way to optimising the use of existing land resources and ensuring timely implementation of planned projects. The Task Force also tendered advice to the Government on how best the implementation of these measures could be further enhanced. The Task Force considered that the Government should pursue these measures vigorously to increase or expedite land supply."
The discussion papers of this meeting have been uploaded onto the Development Bureau's website (www.devb.gov.hk/en/boards_and_committees/task_force_on_land_supply/index.html).

Ends/Tuesday, February 13, 2018
Issued at HKT 20:13