Following is a question by the Hon Christopher Chung and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (February 19):
The Development Bureau announced in June last year that a site of an area of merely 476 square metres at the junction of Oi Tak Street and Oi Kan Road in Shau Kei Wan (Oi Tak Street site) would be included in the land sales programme of the current financial year. The site will be put up for sale by open tender on the 21st of this month for private residential development. Some residents in the district strongly oppose such an arrangement, pointing out that the "diminutive" waterfront site provides a maximum permissible gross floor area of merely 4 287 square metres, and that the new building, which will be very close to Tung To Court and Oi Po House of Oi Tung Estate, will obstruct natural lighting and ventilation of inland buildings. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether, before offering the aforesaid site for sale by tender, the authorities have studied the impact of the new building on the ventilation in the area, access to natural light by the lower-floor units of the buildings nearby and the property prices of the neighbouring estates, and the issue of the area of that site being possibly further reduced due to a 12-metre-diameter underground sewer discharging to the sea; if they have conducted such a study, and the outcome shows that the new building will not impact on the surrounding environment, of the justifications and data; if not, how the authorities know whether the plan has any impact on the residents in the vicinity;
(2) given that, in the consultation document issued in September last year, the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee suggested building single-block public rental housing buildings dedicated for singletons, but it has been reported that some Members of this Council, District Council members and members of the public oppose to constructing buildings by making use of every single space, and the consultation report will be released in the first quarter of this year, why the authorities have decided to offer the Oi Tak Street site for sale by tender on the 21st of this month without waiting for the release of the report; whether it has assessed if the authorities have fully considered public views in making the decision to call for tenders; if it has assessed, of the outcome; and
(3) as I have learnt that, before proceeding with reclamation at the location of the aforesaid site and in its vicinity in 1999, the Government had made an undertaking to the Eastern District Council that the reclaimed land would be used only for providing subsidised housing and community facilities rather than developing private housing, whether the Government has assessed if it has reneged on its undertaking by putting up the Oi Tak Street site for sale for private residential development?
Housing is a livelihood issue which is one of the prime concerns of the community. Tackling the housing issue is one of the priority tasks of the current term of the Government. To meet the public's strong demand for housing, the Government has to increase the supply of land for housing development. The Government is adopting a multi-pronged strategy to increase land supply in the short, medium and long term, through the continued and systematic implementation of a series of measures, including the optimal use of developed land as far as practicable and creating new land for development. One of the major sources of supply is the Government's various on-going land use reviews, including review of the government land being vacant or under short term tenancy. In the past, the Legislative Council and the community have requested the Government to make optimal use of such land as far and as quickly as possible to meet the community's pressing demand for land.
The residential site at the junction of Oi Kan Road and Oi Tak Street in Shau Kei Wan (the Site) is a piece of vacant government land zoned "Residential (Group A)" in the Approved Shau Kei Wan Outline Zoning Plan No. S/H9/16. Residential development is a use always permitted in the zone and in line with the planning intention. When considering whether the Site could be used for residential development and included in the land sale programme, the Government consulted relevant departments to ensure no insurmountable problem for residential development on the Site. The Site was included in the 2013-14 Land Sale Programme in June 2013 and will be disposed of by open tender between February 21 and April 4, 2014.
I reply to the three-part question as follows:
(1) In the preparation of outline zoning plans (OZP), the Planning Department (PlanD) carries out relevant assessments to confirm the feasibility of relevant land-use proposals. The Site has been zoned "Residential (Group A)" since mid-1990s. When the Town Planning Board amended the Shau Kei Wan OZP in 2008, building height restrictions for various zones were incorporated. In formulating such building height restrictions, PlanD conducted a visual appraisal and an air ventilation assessment (AVA) for the proposed restrictions within the zones concerned. According to the AVA report, the Site does not fall within any major breezeway or ventilation problem area.
Besides, building designs of private residential developments shall comply with the provisions of the Buildings Ordinance, including the provisions on air ventilation and natural lighting. The Government has also promulgated the Sustainable Building Design Guidelines to facilitate air ventilation. There is a single-cell stormwater box culvert of around 3.5 metres wide in the north-eastern part of the Site. The Government will designate the drainage reserve area in the north-eastern part of the Site as a non-building area (see the attached map) in order to ensure that the existing underground drainage facilities will not be affected and address the local residents' concern about the potential impacts of the proposed residential development on its surrounding areas in terms of landscape, air ventilation and access to natural light. This arrangement will not affect the remaining area of the Site for residential development.
(2) The Site is a piece of vacant government land and is not located within the lot boundary of any housing estate. The designation of the Site for private residential development is unrelated to the views of the Long Term Housing Strategy Steering Committee on constructing single-block public rental housing buildings at suitable sites within existing public rental housing estates.
The Government has made use of various channels to explain the designation of the Site for residential development to Legislative Council (LegCo) Members/District Council (DC) Members and local residents, including several written replies to the enquiries raised by LegCo Members/DC Members and residents. The departments concerned, including the Lands Department and the PlanD, also met some LegCo Members/DC Members and the representatives of the residents in September and October 2013, and attended the meeting of the Planning, Works and Housing Committee of the Eastern District Council held on October 18, 2013. The departments concerned had explained to Members and the residents the planning and land issues of the Site. As mentioned above, the drainage reserve area in the north-eastern part of the Site will be designated as non-building area to address Members' and residents' concerns about impacts on landscape, air ventilation and access to natural light.
(3) The land created through the Aldrich Bay reclamation is mainly used for housing, school and open space developments. As for the Residential (Group A) zone within the reclamation area, its planning intention is mainly for high-density residential development and there is no restriction on the types of housing development. In fact, the existing housing developments on the reclaimed land of the Aldrich Bay include both public and private housing.
In a nutshell, the Site is a piece of government land and housing development thereon is in line with the planning intention and requirements of the OZP concerned. Given the current acute shortage of land and housing supply, we should optimise the use of every piece of developable land resources, in particular conveniently located urban sites. The housing development on the Site can help meet the public's strong demand for housing in urban areas and benefit the community as a whole.
Ends/Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Issued at HKT 15:25