Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):
On February 11, 1998, the Government indicated to the then Provisional Legislative Council that in 1982, it had reached an agreement with a private consortium on the acquisition of land at Tin Shui Wai and the development of a new town in the south of Tin Shui Wai. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) of the scope of acquisition and planned uses of the land involved in the agreement (with illustrations); the area of the land, the amount payable to the private consortium concerned, and the fee charged for regranting 38.8 hectares of land back to that private consortium for commercial and residential development;
(b) of the restrictions imposed by the agreement on the development of the new town in the south and the northern part of Tin Shui Wai, and whether such restrictions were no longer in effect in 2002; and
(c) given that it has been reported that the agreement restricted the allocation of land at Tin Shui Wai by the Government for developing shop premises and markets, of the number of public rental housing (PRH) tenants at Tin Shui Wai at present, and what measures the Government will adopt to provide affordable foods and daily necessities to those tenants, e.g. whether it will consider identifying sites near the PRH estates at Tin Shui Wai for constructing PRH markets and shopping malls to provide shop premises at a lower rental level, or leasing out vacant lands on short-term tenancy for the development of bazaars for small business operators?
In order to develop the Tin Shui Wai (TSW) area thereby increasing housing supply, the Government entered into an agreement with the Mightycity Company Limited and the Tin Shui Wai Development Limited (TSWDL) in 1982 (the Agreement). According to the Agreement, the Government would purchase about 488 hectares of land in TSW from TSWDL and develop 169 hectares of the 488 hectares into a new town of a population of some 135 000. The remaining 319 hectares of land would be retained by the Government as land reserve, the use and disposal of which was at the discretion of the Government. The Agreement also set out that the Government would grant 38.8 hectares of the 169 hectares to TSWDL for residential and commercial development; the Government would develop the remaining 130.2 hectares for public rental housing (PRH) and subsidized housing to accommodate a population of about 67 500, and would provide the necessary government, institution and community facilities, together with some commercial accommodation for neighbouring shops.
I reply to the three parts of the question as follows:
(a) Pursuant to Hon Albert Ho's request, I have shown in the attached Tin Shui Wai Outline Zoning Plan at Annex the locations of the following, namely the 169 hectares of land for the development of a new town of a population of some 135 000 and the 38.8 hectares out of it granted to TSWDL for private residential and commercial use as well as the 319 hectares of land retained as land reserve at the time, which were delineated after the signing of the 1982 Agreement. Such government land reserve has subsequently been mainly developed as the current TSW North since the 1990s.
At the time, the Government purchased the 488 hectares of land from TSWDL at a price of $2.258 billion; and after deducting the $800 million premium TSWDL had to pay for the 38.8 hectares, the Government would need to pay $1.458 billion.
(b) Apart from the land use arrangements for the 169 hectare development zone (i.e. the 38.8 hectares to be developed by TSWDL for residential and commercial use and the remaining 130.2 hectares to be developed by the Government for PRH, subsidized housing, public facilities and some commercial accommodation for neighbouring shops), the Agreement also imposed a restriction on the commercial accommodation for neighbouring shops, stipulating that the provision of such commercial accommodation for neighbouring shops should not render the commercial accommodation to be provided by TSWDL on the 38.8 hectares not commercially viable. The original English text in the Agreement is "some commercial accommodation for neighbourhood shops….being provided only to such extent as is calculated not to render the commercial accommodation to be provided by TSW on the 38.8 hectares not commercially viable". The Agreement, including the above restriction, was revoked in 2002.
(c) Regarding the report that the Agreement restricted the allocation of land in TSW by the Government for developing shops and markets, I would like to point out that the Agreement had never restricted the planning and use of the 319 hectares retained by the Government as land reserve at the time, which has been mainly developed as the northern area of TSW. As for the 169 hectares of land within the current southern TSW, the restriction on the commercial accommodation for neighbouring shops in the development area has no longer existed since the revocation of the Agreement in 2002.
According to the information provided by the Housing Department, there are at present about 56 500 PRH households living in TSW. When developing the PRH estates in TSW, the Hong Kong Housing Authority has reviewed the community and retail facilities in the district, so that there is provision of facilities such as restaurants, supermarkets, markets, etc within each estate or in their vicinity to meet the daily needs of residents.
Construction of public markets falls within the purview of the Food and Health Bureau (FHB). According to FHB, various factors should be considered when planning for the construction of public markets, including the population and demographic mix in the district, local ancillary facilities, market facilities nearby, as well as the number and distribution of fresh provision shops in the vicinity, etc. Also, FHB has to take into account the long-term viability of the market and to ensure the prudent use of public resources. At present, there are a number of private markets and supermarkets as well as markets operated by the Housing Department in TSW. In addition, there are shopping malls and various kinds of shops in a number of housing estates, providing residents with daily shopping and dining facilities. Therefore, FHB currently has no plan to construct any new market in TSW.
Currently, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) has no plan to set up any new hawker bazaar, open-air bazaar or flea market. As members of the public are concerned about the environmental hygiene problems and other nuisances that might be caused by on-street hawking, any proposal regarding open-air bazaar should more appropriately be raised by the locals with the general support of local residents and people working in the district as well as the agreement of the local District Council. The Government keeps an open mind regarding such suggestion. FEHD stands ready to provide, in collaboration with relevant Departments, appropriate assistance to project proponents if they can identify suitable sites with the support of the local District Councils and satisfy the requirements on food safety and environmental hygiene.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 15:36