SDEV speaks to the media on quarterly Land Sale Programme for October to December 2014

Following is the transcript of remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the question-and-answer session of the media session on the quarterly Land Sale Programme for October to December 2014 today (September 24):

Reporter: How likely the Government will be able to meet the housing supply target this year?

Secretary for Development: For this year, the target for private housing land supply is 18,800 flats. We are quite confident in achieving this. But the target we give ourselves is not just that, the target we give ourselves is over and above that. Because in the past two years, the land supply as compared to the target, has fallen short. We are trying very hard to catch up part of it.

Reporter: Secretary, you mentioned that there were difficulties in rezoning, how is that affected reaching the housing target supply? How will the Government address these difficulties in future? What will you do to prevent having such issues in delaying you?

Secretary for Development: Thank you. We have encountered tremendous difficulties in the rezoning process. The resistance is basically from local districts. We are engaging the District Councils, and also the people living there to try to address their concerns. So the effect is basically delaying the availability of land supply, but we are trying very hard in terms of engaging them earlier, trying to listen to them and trying to find solutions. We cannot promise we can find solutions for everything they have asked for. Sometimes this is simply not possible. But if the concerns are legitimate, we will try our best to co-ordinate with other government departments to address them, and then put the proposal to the Town Planning Board for consideration. So in a nutshell, the effect is a little delay, but we will continue to work on it. It may not be able to come into the Land Sale Programme in the quarter that we have originally anticipated, but we will work hard to make it happen in the following quarters. What is important is to keep on doing it persistently, so that even if it is a little delayed, we can adopt the land supply from other sources as I have outlined earlier, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) or the Urban Renewal Authority (URA). But in a relatively medium- and long-term, we will be able to put those sites to the market to meet the demand.

Reporter: But the Government is also trying to revitalise the industrial buildings, is that in conflict with selling the industrial land?

Secretary for Development: This is indeed a good question. We are trying to undertake a review on a territory-wide basis, in terms of land use. So with the changes in the manufacturing sector in Hong Kong, many of the "Industrial" use zoning have been rezoned to "Commercial" or "Other purposes". The initiative to revitalise industrial buildings was launched a number of years ago, since then we have witnessed tremendous changes in Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. After careful consideration, the industrial land that we now put up for sale is in an area that future rezoning for other purposes is most unlikely, because in that particular area, there are still very active industrial activities.

Reporter: Secretary, you have mentioned that you want to rely on the MTRCL to help with the housing supply, but with the Tin Shui Wai site, the MTRCL is having a difficult time getting a tender. How can you rely on them if it is not going anywhere?

Secretary for Development: You mean the Tin Shui Wai site that failed earlier this year? I must say it was a marginal failure. They plan to re-tender it in the coming quarter. I think given the current sentiment in the market, and taking into consideration the fact that after that particular failed tender, the Government was able to sell two parcels of land again in Tin Shui Wai. So we are hopeful that the tender will be able to succeed.

Reporter: But are you confident that the MTRCL will be able to help boost land supply and housing supply?

Secretary for Development: Number one, they have been very responsive in our discussion with them; secondly we are watching very closely in terms of their progress in preparing the various packages of sites for tender. We are keeping a very close monitoring.

Reporter: Are you confident that the URA and the MTRCL will meet their target?

Secretary for Development: For the sites that I mentioned in the coming quarter, I am pretty confident.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, September 24, 2014
Issued at HKT 21:31


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