Following is a question by the Hon Dominic Lee and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (January 18):
My office has recently received a proposal from the representatives of indigenous villagers of the New Territories that the Government may resume lands in the area around Ting Lai Road near Nam Hang Tsuen in Tai Po and rezone the nearby "Village Type Development" and "Green Belt" sites for public housing or Light Public Housing (LPH) use. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the Government has conducted any follow-up work and study on the development planning for the area around Ting Lai Road near Nam Hang Tsuen in Tai Po; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether the Government can deploy staff, together with the villagers of Nam Hang Tsuen, to inspect the area around the village within the coming two months, so as to understand and record the situation of the area near the village, with a view to facilitating further study on the relevant development planning; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) whether there are precedents of resuming land on "Village Type Development" sites and rezoning "Green Belt" sites for public housing use; if so, of the details; and
(4) given that the area near Nam Hang Tsuen does not fall within the catchment of the Northern Metropolis which is a key development focus, of the procedures and criteria adopted by the Government for selecting sites not located in the Northern Metropolis for the development of public housing or LPH?
(1) and (3) To meet the needs of the community, the Government has been actively identifying sites with potential for housing development through various land use reviews.
According to the records of the Town Planning Board (TPB), there were four sites involving or partially involving the rezoning of "Village Type Development" area for public housing development in the past some 20 years. Among which, three sites in Tuen Mun completed the rezoning process in 2003 and were subsequently developed into Yan Tin Estate, Wo Tin Estate and Ching Tin Estate respectively. The remaining site to the north of Lai Yiu Estate in Kwai Chung just completed the rezoning process in 2022. In addition, a site adjacent to Wing Ting Road in Ngau Chi Wan and partly falling on "Village Type Development" zone also commenced the rezoning process in mid-2022 for redeveloping Ngau Chi Wan Village, an urban squatter area, into public housing.
As regards "Green Belt" (GB) zones, the Government completed three rounds of GB reviews from 2012 to the end of 2022. The first round of review mainly covered GB sites which were formed, deserted or devegetated, but possessed potential for residential development. The second round of review mainly covered government sites which were vegetated areas with relatively less buffering effect and lower conservation value. Most of these sites fall on the outer fringe of the entire GB zones or are close to developed areas or public roads, and are in proximity to some existing infrastructure facilities. During the two rounds of reviews, a total of 77 GB sites with potential for housing development were identified, among which 45 sites have already been rezoned for housing development as of now. It is expected that these sites could altogether provide nearly 78 000 public housing units and nearly 13 000 private housing units.
During the third round of GB review which was recently completed, we examined sites with higher gradient and farther away from the built-up area but still with roads in the vicinity, and covering also private land. About 255 hectares of GB clusters (with about 30 per cent of them being private land) were shortlisted in the end for further technical studies. We will proceed with the technical studies at full steam, with the goal of completing the rezoning of the first batch of the clusters by 2024 and then completing the formation of these clusters in around 2026.
Nam Hang Tsuen and the nearby slopes are zoned "Village Type Development" and "GB" respectively on the Approved Tai Po Outline Zoning Plan No. S/TP/30. The GB part is long and narrow with full vegetation cover on the slope part at present. Hence, it was not selected for further technical studies in any of the land use reviews mentioned above.
(2) Based on the considerations mentioned above, as well as the need to identify land for village resite should land zoned "Village Type Development" be cleared for development, we have no plans to pursue any developments at the said location. The Government stands ready to communicate with villagers in case there is room to revisit the site in light of any changes in circumstances in the future.
(4) When identifying land for public housing development, the Government will consider various factors including land use compatibility, holistic planning of the community as well as the transport and infrastructure facilities in the area, before commencing technical studies to ascertain the feasibility of developing the site concerned. Upon completion of the technical studies required, the Government will commence rezoning according to the established practice and submit recommendations for consideration by the TPB.
The objective of Light Public Housing is to provide appropriate short-term accommodation for applicants. Apart from considering the above planning factors, the Government will also take into account the implementation timetable for the long-term development plan of the relevant land when selecting suitable sites. We focus our efforts in identifying sites, both government and private, that may become available in the near future, with a view to commencing the project as soon as practicable yet not compromising their planned long-term uses.
Ends/Wednesday, January 18, 2023
Issued at HKT 12:50