LCQ8: Rights to use public facilities in private developments

Following is a question by the Hon Audrey Eu and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 7):


Recently, quite a number of members of the public are concerned about their rights to use the public facilities in private developments and restrictions on such use. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the Government will consider reviewing the current version of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines to set out the basic standards for private developers on the opening of the above public facilities for public use (e.g. such facilities must be open 24 hours a day, types of public activities allowed in such facilities and other restrictions on public use of such facilities, etc.);

(b) given that after the release by the Government earlier on of a list of private developments completed after 1997, which were required to provide public facilities, the Secretary for Development has undertaken to continue to compile the relevant information for the period before 1997 and upload such information onto the Government websites in batches upon completion of work, of the latest work progress; and state, according to the information already processed, the number of private developments completed before 1997, in which the developers were required by the Government to provide public facilities under their land leases, as well as the following details of such developments and facilities:

                                 Nature and use         Year
    Address     Area     of public facility     of approval
    _______     ____     ____________       ________


(c) given that the "deeds of dedication" provide for dedication of areas in private developments for public passage, and the Buildings Department had, in its inspections made in 2006 and 2007 of such dedicated areas, identified cases of unauthorized structures causing obstruction to public passage, whether the Government has initiated any prosecution in respect of such cases; if it has, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?


Madam President,

My reply to the three-part question is as follows:

(a) The purpose of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) is to provide basic guidelines to ensure that, during the planning process, there is a fair basis for the Government to reserve adequate land to facilitate social and economic development and provide appropriate public facilities to meet the needs of the public. These standards and guidelines can help determine the total area of land required for the various types of land uses and their territorial distribution; provide the locational criteria for individual land uses and facilities; and formulate a land use budget and serve as assessment criteria for land uses of various districts.

Using open space as an example, the planning principles, hierarchy of classification, standards for provision and calculation for meeting such standards, zoning, locational criteria and design guidelines have been set out in detail in Chapter 4 of the HKPSG. It is worth mentioning that there is no distinction between public and private open space in the standards for open space in the HKPSG. Also, the HKPSG has not provided specific guidelines for public facilities provided by private developers.

The standards and guidelines for general public facilities have been covered in the HKPSG. The purpose of the HKPSG is to reserve land for planning public facilities. Operational details, such as opening hours, restriction of use and activities allowed in the area etc., are not suitable for inclusion in the HKPSG. Furthermore, the uses and operation of these facilities vary according to different circumstances and it is not possible to generalize them into a single standard to cover all scenarios.

(b) On March 28, 2008, the Lands Department (LandsD) published a list on the provision of public facilities and/or open space required under leases for public use in private developments completed in or after 1997 on its website. LandsD is also preparing a similar list for private developments completed before 1997 and we will announce it when ready. As the number of private developments involved is large, publishing the lists in phases is a more pragmatic approach. We expect that the second phase of the list can be published on LandsD's website in the latter part of this year.

(c) In 2006 and 2007, during inspections by the Buildings Department (BD) in respect of public facilities required under deeds of dedication for public passage in private developments, 4 cases involving unauthorized structures obstructing public passage have been found. The parties concerned have been immediately reminded by BD to remove the obstructions to ensure that the public passage is accessible. As the parties concerned have removed the obstructions voluntarily and maintain an unobstructed public passage upon receipt of BD's notification, there is no need for BD to take further action, including prosecution action.

Ends/Wednesday, May 7, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:43