LCQ3: Public open space

Following is a question by the Hon Margaret Ng and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (March 5):


The media have recently reported that when the Town Planning Board ("TPB") granted planning permission for the development project of Times Square in Causeway Bay ("the Square"), it had imposed some additional conditions, one of which required that a public open space be set aside at the street level of the Square. However, the area concerned has never been open for public use since the completion of the Square, and the property management company of the Square even charge venue rental for the commercial activities organised by commercial organisations in that area. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the details of the additional conditions specified in the planning permission granted by TPB for the development project of the Square;

(b) whether it has assessed the rights and responsibilities of the owner or management company of the Square in respect of the area, and to which party the income derived from the area should belong; and

(c) of the policies or measures in place to ensure that real estate developers will comply with the condition on the provision of public open space as stipulated in the land leases?


Madam President,

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

(a) The planning application for the development of Times Square in Causeway Bay was approved by the Town Planning Board (TPB) in May 1989. In approving the planning permission, the TPB had imposed the following three conditions:

(i) an amount of public open space provision;

(ii) the layout and implementation of a landscape scheme for the public open space to the satisfaction of the then Director of Buildings and Lands or of the TPB; and

(iii) the provision of access, car parking and loading and unloading facilities and the implementation of a traffic improvement proposal in the area to the satisfaction of the Commissioner for Transport or of the TPB.

(b) The development project of Times Square provides a public open space is located on the ground level of the Square at the junction of Russell Street and Matheson Street. The space covers 3,017 square metres and comprises two parts, namely the covered area and the open area. The space dedicated for public use is located on private land. The title of the land belongs to the owner of Times Square who has the obligation to manage the public open space. His rights and obligations are governed by a Deed of Dedication (the Deed). The Deed was signed in 1992 by the then Director of Buildings and Lands on behalf of the Government and the owner of Times Square. The Deed governs the rights and obligations of the owner, the land use of the site and the enforcement actions on the part of the Government. The key terms and conditions are as follows -

(i) The owner shall at its own expense keep and maintain the dedicated area in a clean and tidy condition and free from any obstruction;

(ii) The owner shall employ cleaners and watchmen for ensuring effective management;

(iii) The owner should open the dedicated area for pedestrian passage or passive recreation ground for public use;

(iv) Subject to the prior approval of the Buildings Department, the owner has the right to place (or permit the placing of) temporary structures on the dedicated area for temporary exhibitions and displays, provided that the same shall not impede the use of pedestrian passage. The owner may charge the organisations for their use of electricity/water or related facilities and other services provided by the owner in respect of such exhibitions or displays;

(v) If the owner fails to comply with the requirements of the Deed, the Government can take follow-up actions in accordance with the provisions of the Deed, e.g. requiring the owner to undertake works for the removal of any obstruction from the dedicated area impeding the use of pedestrian passage.

(c) Generally, the TPB can impose appropriate conditions on individual merits in approving planning permissions, for example requiring an applicant to provide public open space. Having regard to the practical considerations, such conditions will be incorporated in the land leases or implemented through the Buildings Ordinance. To ensure that developers have fulfilled the relevant provisions, the Lands Department and the Buildings Department will scrutinise the development projects upon completion to satisfy themselves that all the requirements in the land leases or building plans are complied with, before issuing the certificates of compliance or occupation permits. To ensure that the owners continue to discharge their duties, the two departments will monitor the implementation of the relevant provisions by conducting spot checks and act upon receiving complaints from members of the public.

Finally, in response to the introduction of Hon Margaret Ng's question, I wish to point out that the development project of Times Square has fulfilled the requirements of the Deed mentioned above. Upon completion of Times Square, the public open space on the ground level has been opened for public use as a pedestrian passage and an open space for passive recreation in accordance with the Deed. I have also clarified that in accordance with the provisions of the Deed, the owner of Times Square may charge organisations holding exhibitions or displays on the Area, but only for their use of water/electricity or related facilities and other services provided by the owner in respect of such exhibitions and displays.

Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, March 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 13:19