Task Force on Land Supply holds eleventh meeting

The Task Force on Land Supply (Task Force) held its eleventh meeting today (March 6). The meeting mainly discussed the possibility of developing the River Trade Terminal (RTT) site for alternative use. The Task Force was also briefed on the planning of transport infrastructure to support development needs. 

The Task Force Chairman, Mr Stanley Wong, said the RTT, occupying an area of 65 hectares, is a privately-run terminal dedicated for river cargo. In 2017, the utilisation rate of the RTT was only 24 per cent of its capacity; it handled only 3 per cent of Hong Kong Port's total throughput. Members generally agreed that it would be worthwhile to explore the alternative uses of the sizeable RTT site to better meet the prevailing needs of the community.

Mr Wong said, "Given that Tuen Mun West is predominantly industrial in character, an option discussed by the Task Force is to accommodate industrial and brownfield-related operations at the RTT site. The Task Force also discussed the possibility of using the site for housing development, but this would be more challenging in terms of ensuring compatibility with the adjoining industrial uses; whether the transport infrastructure could support some 20 000 residential units as roughly estimated; as well as the impact of air pollution and noise problems caused by the industrial facilities nearby."

Mr Wong added that the Task Force noted the proposed Lung Kwu Tan reclamation at the coastal area to the north of Castle Peak Power Station as recommended under the recently completed "Technical Study on Reclamation at Lung Kwu Tan". The Task Force agreed that the proposed Lung Kwu Tan reclamation would provide an opportunity to rationalise the industrial uses along the entire western coastal area of Tuen Mun, and to explore holistically the possibilities of converting the RTT site and other land in the vicinity to residential use. This comprehensive and thorough examination of the potential of the RTT site and adjoining land for housing development would achieve better economy of scale in development. It would also address the problem of land use compatibility, provide more space for better planning of the community, and facilitate strategic planning of transport infrastructure to expand the transport infrastructure network and create capacity to support the future development at the surrounding areas of RTT as well as northwest New Territories. As it would take time to conduct detailed study of the various issues pertinent to the proposal such as land use compatibility, transport and infrastructural constraints and land ownership issues, the proposal of developing the RTT site could only be regarded as a medium to long-term land supply option.

As regards the transport infrastructure to support development needs, the Task Force Vice-chairman, Dr Greg Wong, said that whilst transport infrastructure planning is neither the Task Force's purview nor a land supply option, it is highly relevant to increasing land supply and the various land supply options discussed by the Task Force. On request, the Government briefed the Task Force on the current approach to transport infrastructure planning and the "capacity-creating" approach advocated in the "Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030" study.

Dr Wong said, "The 'capacity-creating' approach represents a paradigm shift from the traditional demand-led approach. Under the 'capacity-creating' approach, population and employment forecasts, traditional volume/capacity ratios and the economic internal rate of return (EIRR), etc. would no longer be the only key criteria for assessment on transport infrastructure planning in future. Rather, through creating development capacity for Hong Kong in an optimal manner in tandem with enhancement of infrastructural as well as environmental capacity, we would not only cater for foreseeable land use demand, but also the potential demand and unforeseen circumstances, hence creating capacity for contingency. Nevertheless, the provision of capacity for contingency in transport infrastructure projects would inevitably involve additional resources and costs. For example, more resources are needed to develop or resume adjacent land lots to provide space for additional transport infrastructure such as extra traffic lanes and grade-separated interchanges."

Dr Wong added that the Task Force supported the "capacity-creating" approach in transport infrastructure planning, and considered that subject to wide community support, the Government could be more forthcoming in adopting this approach in conducting transport model runs and assessing the traffic forecasts, hence promoting infrastructure-led development.

Mr Wong said the Task Force had discussed more than 10 land supply options at the past 11 meetings. The Task Force is consolidating the relevant information on these options in full steam to prepare for the public engagement targeted for launch in April. Mr Wong stressed that the public engagement is an interactive process, and welcomes other suggestions from different stakeholders during the public engagement.

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, March 6, 2018
Issued at HKT 23:18