Publication of information on private columbaria

The Development Bureau today (December 16) published further information on private columbaria that are known to the Government to enhance consumer protection.

The information published covers the relevant land/lease (user restrictions) and planning information relating to those private columbaria that are known to the Lands Department or Planning Department and which the departments have reason to believe are operating as columbaria. This information is available on the Development Bureau's website at , and will be updated every three months.

A spokesman for the Development Bureau said that the two departments have provided further information on columbaria in response to enquiries or complaints. Publication of the relevant information in a systematic manner provides greater convenience for consumers.

"Members of the public who wish to purchase niches at private columbaria are reminded of the importance of obtaining from the operators full and complete information in respect of private columbaria in order to check whether the columbaria are compliant with all the relevant statutory requirements, and land lease and/or town planning requirements.

"To protect their own interests, members of the public are also reminded to ascertain from the operators how the operators will look after the interests of their customers, such as whether and how they would refund or otherwise compensate their customers in cases where the respective private columbarium subsequently closes down or is disallowed from operating. Members of the public should seek independent legal advice on their rights where necessary," the spokesman said.

The information is divided into two parts. Part A sets out the private columbaria compliant with the user restrictions in the land leases and the statutory town planning requirements, and which are not illegally occupying any Government land. Part B sets out the private columbaria which are pending checking for compliance with the relevant conditions for inclusion in Part A, or have been confirmed to be non-compliant with the user restrictions in the land leases and/or statutory town planning requirements and/or are illegally occupying Government land.

Operators of the columbaria in Part B have been given sight of the relevant information regarding their cases, and where they disagree with the views of the government departments this is also indicated. Supplemental information that they have provided and have agreed to be made available for public viewing is also uploaded to the Development Bureau's website.

The information provided will not be exhaustive, especially during the initial period subsequent to publication. For new cases reported to the Lands Department and/or Planning Department, these cases will be included in the information in subsequent updates subject to confirmation.

The Food and Health Bureau consulted the public on the review of columbarium policy between July 6, 2010 and September 30, 2010. It is proposed in the Consultation Paper that in the longer term, the Government should introduce a licensing scheme to enhance regulation of private columbaria. Prior to the introduction of the licensing scheme, the Paper proposes publication of information on private columbaria known to the Lands Department and Planning Department to enhance consumer protection.

For enquiries, please call enquiry hotline at 3142 2255.

Ends/Thursday, December 16, 2010
Issued at HKT 15:31