Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 16):
Regarding the shopping centre redeveloped from the shopping mall on the Remaining Portion of Rural Building Lot No. 368 in Repulse Bay, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) if it has conducted any assessment on the inconvenience caused to tourists by the prolonged idling of the aforesaid shopping centre and their dissatisfaction; if it has, of the assessment results; if not, whether such an assessment can be conducted immediately;
(b) of the estimated time required for ultimately settling the court case and dispute between the Government and the consortium which built the shopping centre; and
(c) of the approaches adopted by the Government before settlement of the court case and dispute to address the prolonged lack of supporting facilities in Repulse Bay which cater for tourists' needs?
The shopping centre referred to in the question involves matters concerning the Development Bureau on land administration as well as the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau (CEDB) on tourism ancillaries. I now offer a general reply in response to the three parts of the question in accordance with the relevant policy areas.
The shopping centre (ie The Pulse) is situated at the Remaining Portion of Rural Building Lot No. 368. The owner completed the building on the lot without the consent of the Government as the lessor acting in the landlord capacity, which is in breach of lease conditions. Notwithstanding that the building plans were disapproved by the Lands Department (LandsD), the owner chose to build the subject building without the consent despite the Government's repeated warnings. The owner has initiated legal proceedings. By judgement handed down in December 2009, the Court of First Instance dismissed the owner's claims against the Government. Subsequently in January 2010, the owner's solicitors lodged a Notice of Appeal with the Court, but to-date they have failed to fix a date for hearing the appeal.
In the meantime, the owner has submitted to LandsD an application for consent under the lease subject to payment of premium without prejudice to its appeal with the Court. Regarding the negotiation on premium, LandsD has recently been notified by the owner that it will further appeal against the premium assessed by LandsD after it has responded earlier to the first premium appeal lodged by the owner.
I wish to reiterate that any owner who wishes to redevelop a lot must obtain the Government's consent under the lease before commencing any redevelopment. In this case, LandsD is acting in the landlord capacity to process the owner's redevelopment matters.
There is an established procedure for LandsD to deal with appeals against premium and the associated premium negotiations. Premium appeal is a lessor and lessee issue and can only be resolved until the lessee is willing to come to agreement with LandsD. The Government is not in a position to unilaterally prejudge when the issue will be settled.
CEDB indicated that they are aware the Repulse Bay is one of the tourist hot spots in the Southern District. The natural scenic environment of the beaches in the area is very attractive to the tourists. The facilities, retail shops and restaurants in the area have been providing appropriate services for visitors. Effective management and maintenance service for the beach is provided by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD). LCSD has also enhanced the facilities and environment at the beach from time to time. To facilitate visitors visiting the Repulse Bay, the Tourism Commission has installed a network of visitor signage in the area. Relevant departments will also continue to liaise with local personalities to provide adequate and convenient loading and unloading facilities for visitors.
According to the feedback from the tourism sector, the supporting facilities at the Repulse Bay is sufficient to meet the demands of our visitors, and the attraction has remained as one of the most popular tourist spots in Hong Kong. CEDB has not received any complaints from visitors regarding the lack of supporting facilities at the Repulse Bay area in the past few years.
The Government will continue to closely monitor the conditions in major tourist districts and attractions, while maintaining close liaison and communication with the tourism sector for feedback. Relevant Government departments would also co-ordinate with the management of individual attractions to ensure that the facilities and services offered by the attraction would meet the needs and expectation of our visitors.
Ends/Wednesday, November 16, 2011
Issued at HKT 14:33