LCQ20: Supply of lands for social welfare uses

Following is a question by the Hon Cheung Kwok-che and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (March 16):


At present, there is a dearth of lands for social welfare (welfare) uses in Hong Kong.  Many welfare facilities lack sufficient space, making them unable to meet the requirements of the net operational floor areas specified in the relevant Schedules of Accommodation and affecting their service quality.  With regard to such situation, quite a number of stakeholders in the welfare sector (particularly the providers of elderly and rehabilitation services) as well as the service users have strongly demanded the authorities to ensure an adequate supply of lands for welfare uses.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) whether the authorities had in the past stipulated specific floor area or percentages of floor area for use by welfare facilities in the Conditions of Sale for sites on the List of Sites for Sale by Application; if they have, of the average, maximum and minimum percentages of such floor area in the total floor area; if not, whether the authorities will include such specifications in the Conditions of Sale in the future;

(b) of the respective percentages of floor area for use by welfare facilities in total floor area upon completion of the urban redevelopment projects commenced in the past five years; whether the authorities will specify a minimum percentage of floor area for use by welfare facilities when planning future redevelopment projects; if they will, of such percentage; if not, how the authorities ensure that there will be sufficient welfare facilities provided in the redevelopment projects to meet the needs for welfare services in the districts; and

(c) whether the authorities have plans to amend various outline zoning plans in the next five years so as to adjust the areas of lands zoned for "Government, Institution or Community" uses; what policies or measures the authorities have in town planning for addressing the acute shortage of lands for welfare uses?



As part of its duty in administering land resources, the Development Bureau (DEVB) provides bureaux and departments with the land they require, or the required Gross Floor Area (GFA) through planning briefs and land sale, for implementation of Government policies.  Generally speaking, education and medical facilities are provisioned on specific sites (i.e. "Government, Institution or Community" (G/IC) zones).  As to social welfare facilities, appropriate GFA is allocated for their provisioning in development projects (these may be located within G/IC, "Comprehensive Development Area" (CDA) and "Residential" zones).  In terms of division of responsibilities amongst bureaux and departments, the relevant policy bureau/department plays the role of proponent by proposing the site or GFA required for a facility, while DEVB and its Planning Department (PlanD) and Lands Department (LandsD) act as the resource provider.

My reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(a) As mentioned in the preamble, the Labour and Welfare Bureau (LWB)/ Social Welfare Department (SWD) are the proponent policy bureau and department of social welfare facilities.  If LWB and/or SWD request(s) the provision of GFA for a social welfare facility, PlanD will assist in identifying a suitable site.  If the social welfare facility is suitable for inclusion in a site ready for sale, LandsD will include the relevant requirement in the Conditions of Sale.  Therefore, the specification of GFA for social welfare facilities in the Conditions of Sale for sites in the Land Sale Programme depends on the requirements proposed by LWB/SWD, the suitability of the relevant site, etc.  From the perspective of optimising the use of land resources, it is inappropriate to stipulate a specific percentage of GFA for social welfare facilities in every development project.  In the 2011-12 Land Sale Programme, social welfare facilities will be included in the development of two residential sites, namely the eastern part of the ex-North Point Estate site, North Point and the ex-Tai Wo Hau Factory Estate site, Sha Tsui Road, Tsuen Wan.

(b) GFA has been reserved for social welfare facilities in 11 of the redevelopment projects completed/tendered/commenced by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in the past five years.  Details are shown in the Annex. 

All along, the Government sees opportunities to request the provision of social welfare facilities in large scale development projects, including URA redevelopment projects.  These developments are usually zoned "CDA" on Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs).  PlanD will take advice from LWB and/or SWD to incorporate the need and requirements for the provision of social welfare facilities into the planning briefs to guide the future development of these sites.  URA will also follow the established planning practice and, if requested by the Government, reserve GFA within its redevelopment sites for the provision of social welfare facilities.

 (c) The designation of G/IC zones on statutory OZPs serves to reflect the existing G/IC uses and reserve land for the future provision of G/IC facilities.

PlanD reviews from time to time the land use of G/IC sites with reference to the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) to facilitate overall Government policies and meet the changing needs of the community.  The HKPSG provides an important basis for reference regarding the provisioning of social welfare facilities.  SWD is responsible for reviewing these standards and for proposing amendments when it considers necessary.  Provision of relevant facilities is determined by the priority of relevant policies and availability of resources.

Besides, if social welfare organisations need to redevelop/expand their facilities on G/IC sites and to amend the building height restrictions to meet the requirements of their facilities, they may apply to the Town Planning Board (TPB) under section 12A of the Town Planning Ordinance (the Ordinance).  Their applications will be considered based on the actual circumstances.  If the redevelopment/expansion proposals are well justified and supported by the relevant bureau(x)/department(s), PlanD may recommend to TPB to amend the building height restriction under section 7 of the Ordinance.  In processing these applications, the planning authority will provide support as far as possible and seek to complete the relevant procedures promptly to facilitate development.

On the other hand, the Development Opportunities Office (DOO) under DEVB has been providing one-stop consultation and coordination services to land development projects proposed by non-government organisations (NGOs) meeting the relevant criteria.  Since its establishment in mid-2009, DOO has assisted nine land development projects of NGOs that involve social welfare facilities.  Amongst them, four proposed development projects have already completed their pre-planning work and the details are as follows:
                                  Social welfare facilities
                                  and services provided
                                  in the project and
Project                         the GFA involved
-------                          -------------------------

Redevelopment of          Residential and day care
Tung Wah Group of        services facilities
Hospitals' David             for the elderly
Trench Home for the      (GFA: about 10,800 sq.m.)
Elderly in Southern

Redevelopment of         Residential and day care
Hong Kong Young          services facilities
Women's Christian        for the elderly, family
Association's                 services and community
Kowloon Centre             support services centre
and Anne Black             (GFA: about 6,600 sq.m.)
Guest House in
Kowloon City

Relocation of Hong       Local and overseas
Kong Red Cross's         disaster relief
headquarters to           (GFA: about 1,300 sq.m.)
Yau Tsim Mong

Redevelopment of         Residential and day care
Hong Kong Caritas's      services facilities for
social welfare                the elderly, support
services complex           services for persons
in Tsuen Wan               with disabilities,
District                         trauma treatment
                                  services, well-being
                                  and family services centre
                                  (GFA: about 7,800 sq.m.)

DOO is now handing five other land development proposals involving social welfare facilities, which include elderly care services, rehabilitation services for persons with disabilities, child welfare services, local and overseas disaster relief services, and services for young psychotropic substance abusers.

Ends/Wednesday, March 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 19:00