SDEV speaks to media on quarterly land sale programme for January to March 2016

     Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the question-and-answer session of a media session today (December 30) on the quarterly land sale programme for January to March 2016:

Reporter: Mr Chan, do you think this financial year's target on private residential units can be met? And you said the Government will try to modify its land sale strategy, for example, when it comes to judicial reviews that are still ongoing, would you try to modify it to tackle this problem? And will you try to find more land to meet the needs? Can you elaborate on it?

Secretary for Development: We are pretty confident that the private housing land supply target of this year will be met, i.e. 19,000 units. This year, we have adopted a more flexible strategy in terms of land sale. In the earlier part of the year, we put up more sites for sale. This is to cater for situations that might not be able to be identified at the time of sale, for example, whether the tender will be successful. This will allow us to take into consideration the supply from various other sources, for example, the Mass Transit Railway projects, the Urban Renewal Authority projects, as well as private redevelopment. With this strategy, we have also introduced a mechanism to add sites to the land sale programme during a particular quarter. This has proved to be useful because as you can see from the recent legal challenge on the sites in Tai Po. In view of a legal proceeding going on, we have deferred the closing date for that particular tender, and we have also postponed the tendering for two sites in the same Outline Zoning Plan. Instead, we put up two additional sites for sale to make up the difference. We will continue to adopt this strategy because we do think that we need the flexibility to respond to different market situations in a more responsive manner.   

Reporter: The property market seems to have calmed down a bit, do you think the Government will take that into account when formulating its latest housing policy? And there are groups calling on the Government to consider building flats on brownfield sites, do you think it is worth considering?

Secretary for Development: Yes, we have observed a softening property market, but in terms of the Government's determination to supply private residential land to the market, there is no change in our policy or position. We will continue to supply land to the market in a sustained and stable manner. We will not adjust our policy because of short-term fluctuations, and it is also inappropriate for us at this preliminary stage to do any significant policy adjustment. As to (building housing on) brownfield sites, this is a definite option for the Government to pursue. In fact, we have been pursuing this for a couple of years. As you may know, for the Hung Shui Kiu New Development Area (NDA), we have finished the third stage public engagement in the fourth quarter of this year. That particular NDA involves 190 hectares of brownfield sites. We are planning to launch the final scheme in 2016. We are also planning to launch the third stage public engagement for the Yuen Long South development, which again involves about over 100 hectares of brownfield sites. We have asked the Planning Department and the Civil Engineering and Development Department to do a joint preliminary feasibility study to take a look of the northern part of the New Territories, with a view to identifying possible areas for development. This definitely also includes brownfield sites. So we are working very hard on them, but it is important to understand that it is not just about finding a site and building houses on it. There are business operations and squatters that we have to clear thereon, for some of them really provide important employment opportunities for the people. Some of these economic activities do need to continue, so we have to find a solution for them to go. In a nutshell, we have been doing comprehensive engineering and planning studies, so that we can plan those areas properly, to provide not just housing but also employment opportunities; Government, Institution or Community facilities; but at the same time give proper arrangements to those being affected.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Issued at HKT 20:58