Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):
Recently, some members of the public have relayed to me that the management right of the public open spaces outside Times Square in Causeway Bay belongs to a property management company under the developer of the Square (i.e. the Wharf (Holdings) Limited (the Wharf Holdings)), and they are worried that such arrangement will hinder the use of the aforesaid public open spaces. Regarding the management of public open spaces in private developments (POSPD), will the Government inform this Council:
(a) regarding the case in which the Wharf Holdings is suspected of making use of the said public open spaces to generate profits and contravening the deeds, of the latest follow-up actions taken by the Government;
(b) whether the Government had imposed special restrictions on the Wharf Holdings in respect of the management of the public open spaces outside the Square in the past three years, including new clauses to prevent the company from contravening the "deeds of dedication" ("the deeds"); if it had, of the details; if not, whether the Government can explain the reasons and justifications for not imposing special restrictions on the company which is suspected of making use of the said public open spaces to generate profits and contravening the clauses of the deeds;
(c) of the details of the public open spaces managed by private organisations at present, including the parties responsible for their management, as well as the arrangements and restrictions for the loan of these open public spaces by members of the public; if it cannot provide such information, of the reasons for that; and
(d) in response to the aforesaid case, whether the Government will review the implementation of the guidelines issued in respect of the management of POSPD at present; if it will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The case of the public open space on the ground level of Times Square (the said space) has attracted widespread public concern and discussion in 2008. At the Legislative Council Panel for Development (the Panel) meetings in April and December 2008, as well as in May 2009 and January 2010, we have discussed in detail the subjects of the provision, management and use of public open space in private developments (POSPD) with Members of the Panel. We have also collected views from deputations at the Special Meetings of the Panel in May 2008 and February 2009. In addition, I reported the status of the ownership and management responsibilities of the public open space on the ground floor of Times Square in my response to an oral question raised by a Member on March 5, 2008.
The said space is located on private land. The title of the land belongs to the owner of Times Square (i.e. Times Square Limited). The owner shall manage the said space within the boundary of land under its ownership. His rights and responsibilities are governed by a Deed of Dedication (the Deed). Salient points of the Deed include:
- The owner dedicates the said space unto the public for the purposes of pedestrian passage and passive recreation, and shall at its own expense keep and maintain the said space in a clean and tidy condition and free from any obstruction for ensuring effective management;
- 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 said space for temporary exhibitions or displays, provided that the same shall not impede the use of pedestrian passage; and
- The owner may charge the organisations of the exhibitions or displays for their use of electricity, water or related facilities and other services provided by the owner, but no person shall sell or offer or let to hire any commodity or article, etc.
My reply to the various parts of the question is as follows:
(a) Regarding the case in which the owner of Times Square is suspected of acting in breach of the Deed, the Government took civil action against the owner of Times Square in 2008. As the relevant legal proceedings are in progress, we are not in a position to reveal details.
(b) As mentioned above, the rights and responsibilities of the owner of Times Square in respect of the said space is governed by the Deed. Being one party of the Deed, the owner of Times Square must act in accordance with the requirements as set out in the Deed. If the owner of Times Square acts in breach of the Deed, the Government may take appropriate action in accordance with the clauses of the Deed, including taking civil action. As a matter of fact, the Government is taking civil action against the owner of Times Square for its suspected breach of the Deed in previous years as a follow-up action.
(c) The management of POSPD is the responsibility of the relevant owners. As such, the Government does not collect information on the management agencies employed by POSPD owners. However, to ensure that the public can enjoy these POSPD, we have taken steps to enhance the transparency of such public facilities. Since March 2008, the Government has been compiling information on private developments containing public open space, and making it available through the websites of the Lands Department and Buildings Department. The information released includes the location, area, the level at which it is located, opening hours, as well as the location plans of the public open space, etc.
(d) While releasing information on existing public open space, the Government undertook an in-depth policy review of the subject matter. As mentioned above, we have, for a number of times, consulted the views of the Panel during the review. Moreover, to enhance design quality and public accessibility of POSPD, we commissioned a consultancy study in 2009 to draw up a set of clear and practicable design and management guidelines for POSPD for owners, management agencies and the general public to make reference to. Subsequent to a series of consultation and refinement, we promulgated the "Design and Management Guidelines for Public Open Space in Private Developments" ("the Guidelines") in January this year with a view to striking the right balance between the rights of the owners and the public enjoyment of these POSPD. We submitted the Guidelines to the Panel for Members' reference vide Information Paper No. CB(1)1085/10-11(01). The Guidelines, together with the consultancy report, have also been uploaded onto the website of the Development Bureau.
According to the Guidelines, the management agencies should compile and release information such as the rules and specification with respect to the use, permissible activities and management issues in POSPD, procedures for applying activities in POSPD, contacts of management agencies, etc. Apart from making reference to the Guidelines, owners of POSPD shall act in accordance with the requirements as set out in the leases or deeds.
The above-mentioned policy review and the drawing up of the Guidelines involved substantial work as well as professional and public discussions. We are of the view that at this juncture, we should focus on implementing these arrangements and encouraging public monitoring, instead of initiating yet another review exercise.
Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:31