Following is a question by the Hon Wu Chi-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (October 22):
Regarding review of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG), will the Government inform this Council:
(1) given that the current standard of provision is one public swimming pool complex per 287 000 persons, i.e. one square metre water surface area per 85 persons, and a site area of two hectares is required for a swimming pool complex, of the date of the last review of such standards; as there are views that the number of public swimming pool users has exceeded the relevant capacities, whether the authorities will review the standard; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) given that the current standard of provision is one district public library for each district and a district public library for every 200 000 persons, and that most of the residential sites in various districts are currently used for high density development, whether the authorities will consider reviewing such standard and providing downsized "small public libraries" in communities with a population of 40 000 to 50 000; if they will, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(3) as there are views that the definition of "industrial use" stipulated in HKPSG (i.e. "the use of any place, premises or structure for the manufacture, alteration, cleansing, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, adaptation for sale, breaking up, or demolishing or transformation of goods and materials; for the storage, loading, unloading or handling of goods and cargo; or for the training, research, design and development, quality control and packaging in relation to the above processes") is already outdated and fails to keep pace with the diversified development of industries nowadays, whether the authorities will consider revising the definition to facilitate interested parties to engage in different industries (such as art workshops or indoor planting) in the units of industrial buildings; and
(4) of the number of meetings held in the past three years by the Planning Standards Sub-Committee, which is responsible for formulating and reviewing HKPSG, and the details of the revisions made to HKPSG (including dates and contents of the revisions)?
The Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) stipulates general guidelines for determining the scale, location and site requirements of various land uses, community facilities and infrastructures according to the population and other factors. The relevant guidelines aims to serve as general reference to ensure that, during the planning process, the Government will reserve adequate land to facilitate social and economic development and provide appropriate public facilities to meet the needs of the public.
The government policy bureaux and departments will formulate and review the planning standards and guidelines as appropriate, taking into account Government's policies and development requirements. The inter-departmental Planning Standards Sub-Committee (PSSC) is a sub-committee of the Committee on Planning and Land Development (CPLD) and is responsible for the formulation and review of the HKPSG. The PSSC coordinates, in close consultation with the relevant policy bureaux and departments, the formulation and review of planning standards and guidelines. The PSSC is served by the Planning Department.
Regarding each part of the question, our reply in consultation with the relevant policy bureaux is as follows:
(1) According to Chapter 4 'Recreation, Open Space and Greening' of HKPSG, in the urban areas, the New Towns and the rural townships, the standard of provision is one Swimming Pool Complex per 287 000 population i.e. one square metre water surface area per 85 persons. A site area of two hectares is required, subject to actual site situation.
The current standards and guidelines for Swimming Pool facilities were reviewed in 2007 and approved by CPLD in September 2007 and promulgated in December of the same year.
The Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD) advises that only about 1% of the swimming sessions of the Public Swimming Pools reached maximum capacity during the period of January to September 2014, and the standard for Swimming Pool facilities generally meets the public needs.
(2) According to Chapter 3 'Community Facilities' of the HKPSG, one district library should be provided for each district and a district library should be provided for every 200 000 persons. In planning and preparing the public library facilities, the LCSD and relevant departments will also take into account such factors as the geographical location, transport facilities and demographic characteristics, the utilisation of the existing libraries, the development of infrastructural and community facilities of the district, the changing needs (including demographic changes) of the community, as well as the cost-effectiveness of the services.
In addition to major and district libraries which serve as the backbone of the Hong Kong Public Libraries (HKPL) network, small libraries and mobile libraries are provided to serve communities which are far away from the existing or planned sites of major or district libraries or areas where it is infeasible to set up major and district libraries. Moreover, the HKPL set up community libraries in collaboration with non-government organisations and district groups, and actively develops the "library without walls" service to offer convenient public library services beyond the confines of time and space.
Small libraries mainly serve to supplement major libraries and district libraries for the purpose of enhancing the library network in districts. The LCSD and relevant departments will take into account all relevant factors in deciding whether the public library services for a particular district should be enhanced through such arrangements as provision of small/mobile libraries or expansion/reprovisioning of existing libraries, etc. in view of the circumstances of the district concerned. Setting a rigid planning standard on the basis of demographic factor for the provision of small libraries may result in ineffective resources allocation during implementation and also reduce the flexibility in planning for appropriate library services, having regard to various factors including geographical location, transport network, demographic characteristics, utilisation of the existing libraries, etc. Therefore, the Government has no plan to establish a planning standard for the provision of small libraries.
(3) According to the Definition of Terms used by the Town Planning Board (TPB) in interpreting the planning terms used in statutory plans, "Industrial Use" means the use of any place, premises or structure for the manufacture, alteration, cleansing, repairing, ornamenting, finishing, adaptation for sale, breaking up, or demolishing or transformation of goods and materials; for the storage, loading, unloading or handling of goods and cargo; or for the training, research, design and development, quality control and packaging in relation to the above processes.
The TPB had amended the definition of "Industrial Use" a number of times based on the social and economic needs of Hong Kong, expanding its coverage to design, research, development and training related to industrial processes. The definition of "Industrial Use" by TPB is broader than coverage under the definition of "Factory" under the Factories and Industrial Undertakings Ordinance.
Apart from that, in view of the migration of the Hong Kong manufacturing industries to the Mainland and the restructuring and diversified development of industries from production oriented to management/service oriented and information based, the TPB has widened the scope of uses that are permitted under the "Industrial" zone since 2001. This allows more flexibility in the use of existing industrial and industrial-office (I-O) building. Uses falling outside the definition of "Industrial Uses" can also be conducted in these buildings, such as information and technology and telecommunications industries, office related to industrial uses, audio-visual recording studio, design and media production as well as trading firms requiring large storage space and frequent loading/unloading. However, due to fire safety consideration, the relevant uses must not involve direct provision of customer services or goods.
The Government notes the suggestion to use industrial or I-O buildings for other uses such as art studio and indoor gardening and will hence consider reviewing the usage of industrial or I-O buildings and investigate the possibility of relaxing the uses in these buildings. One of the important considerations is that the relevant uses must meet the fire safety requirements of industrial and I-O buildings.
(4) The PSSC will meet and discuss the major and comprehensive amendments of the standards and guidelines on a need basis. General amendments will also be considered by circulation. In the past three years, i.e. from October 2011 to present, the PSSC had considered proposed amendments of four chapters in HKPSG. These include the amendments of parking standards for private housing in Chapter 8 and the Air Quality Objectives in Chapter 9, which were announced after approval from the CPLD. Please see details in the attached table.
Apart from that, the amendments related to the adoption of the latest guidelines on the provision and design of open space and greening in Chapter 4, as well as the amendments of standards and guidelines of Utilities Services in Chapter 7, have been approved by PSSC and will be submitted to CPLD for consideration. The relevant amendments will be promulgated after the approval from the CPLD.
Ends/Wednesday, October 22, 2014
Issued at HKT 14:30