LegCo Paper No. CB(1)300/96-97
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)
Ref : CB1/PL/PLW/1

LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works

Minutes of meeting held on Tuesday, 8 October 1996 at 2:15 p.m. in the Chamber of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
Members attending :
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
Members absent :
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling
Public officers attending :
For Item I
    Mr LEE Shing-see, JP
    Secretary for Works (Atg)
    Mr Bernard M T LAM, JP
    Director of Civil Engineering
    Mr K K KWOK, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Works (Programme & Resources)
    Mr C G KO, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Works (Works Policy)
For Item II
    Mr Bowen LEUNG, JP
    Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
    Mr Canice MAK, JP
    Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands/Lands & Planning
    Mr R D Pope, JP
    Director of Lands
    Dr K S PUN, OBE, JP
    Director of Planning
    Dr Y L CHOI
    Director of Buildings
    Mr John Collier, JP
    Director of Drainage Services
    Mr S P LAU
    Assistant Director of Agriculture and Fisheries
Clerk in attendance :
    Miss Odelia LEUNG
    Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
    Miss Pauline NG
    Assistant Secretary General 1
    Mrs Mary TANG
    Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2

I. Policy briefing by Secretary for Works on the Governor’s 1996 Policy Address

1. Mr LEE Shing-see briefed members on Government’s policy commitments in the principal programme areas of the Works Branch.

Slope safety

Responsibility for slope maintenance

  1. Government was responsible for maintenance of public slopes whereas owners were responsible for maintenance of private slopes within their lots. However, there were grey areas and the Administration would therefore commission consultants to identify the maintenance responsibilities for around 50,000 registered slopes over a period of three years.
  2. The Lands Department was responsible for bidding the resources for the maintenance of unallocated public slopes.
  3. The Geotechnical Engineering Office (GEO) was responsible for study and upgrading certain old substandard slopes, priority classification, site characterization and cataloguing of slopes.
  4. Under the new arrangement, respective government departments were required to maintain public slopes falling within their programme areas. For instance, the Highways Department would be responsible for maintenance of public slopes adjoining roads.

Slopes affecting schools

2. Mr LEE advised that the school authorities would be responsible for maintenance of their own private slopes. A recent study conducted by the Education Department indicated that 435 schools were affected by slopes. Amongst the 350 schools inspected, 187 slopes were found to require further studies to determine the need for rectification works. Inspections on the remaining 85 schools were underway and were expected to be completed by late 1996. The Government would accord priority to stabilization works on public slopes affecting schools. Notices would be issued to the school authorities concerned for rectification of private slopes. At members’ request, the Administration would provide information on the timetable for stabilisation works on slopes affecting schools.


Natural slopes

3. Mr LAM stated that, except for boulder falls, natural hillside landslides rarely affected life and properties. For boulder fall problems originated from natural hillsides, the current policy was to implement preventive action urgently where there existed an immediate and obvious danger. In order to improve our understanding of the natural hillside problems, the GEO had been carrying out a territory-wide mapping exercise to produce an inventory of landslides on natural hillsides. The inventory was being prepared to examine landslide hazards and assess the risks posed by natural hillsides. On completion of the first phase of risk assessment in early 1997, a report would be prepared giving recommendations on the way forward to alleviate the concern.

Man-made slopes

4. The Administration was considering the feasibility of introducing mandatory maintenance by requiring private owners to submit slope maintenance certificates once every five years to review the safety of man-made slopes within their lots.

Resource allocation

5. On resource allocation, representatives of the Administration advised that $1.3 billion and an additional 160 staff were being provided to the GEO and the Buildings Department from April 1995 to March 2000 to accelerate the Landslip Preventive Measures (LPM) Programme. The target was to complete the studies and the necessary upgrading works on old slopes in the 1977/78 Catalogue by the year 2000. Based on the latest estimates, the total number of sizeable man-made slopes in the whole territory was about 50,000. This included 10,000 slopes under the 1977/78 Catalogue, 15,000 post-GEO slopes which should have been designed to comply with modern safety standards, and 25,000 pre-GEO slopes which were not included in the 1977/78 Catalogue. These pre-GEO slopes were not included because the 1977/78 Catalogue concentrated on man-made slopes in the urban areas of Hong Kong and on large man-made slopes in the New Territories. The GEO was planning for another LPM project to deal with these newly identified pre-GEO slopes and would bid for additional resources where necessary in due course.

Road Excavation Permit Scheme

6. In response to members’ enquiries on the proposed Road Excavation Permit Scheme (the Scheme), Mr LEE made the following points -

  1. There would be improved coordination among utilities companies in road opening works upon the implementation of the Scheme. Under the Scheme, a range of control measures together with a sanction system for non-compliance would be introduced.
  2. The Administration was still considering the feasibility of introducing the Excavation Permit Charging Scheme and would further consult the utilities companies.

7. At the Chairman’s request, the Administration agreed to update the Panel on the latest development of the Scheme.



8. Mr LEE advised that the Administration was exploring ways to improve the delivery of services provided by the Water Supplies Department through closer liaison with the Chinese authorities on the supply of water and improvements in the maintenance of water supply facilities. The Administration had commissioned a consultant to study and assess the overall condition of waterworks to help determine the scale of capital investment needed and future operating costs. Mr LEE pointed out that most incidents involving bursting of water pipes were caused by road excavation works, rather than leaking or defective pipes. Nevertheless, the Administration had scheduled to improve the water supply system by replacing the existing facilities with water pipes of higher quality. To mitigate the recurrence of water pipes burst caused by road excavations, the Water Supplies Department had set up an inspection team to monitor road excavation works.

II. Policy briefing by Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands on the Governor’s 1996 Policy Address

9. Mr Bowen LEUNG gave a brief progress report on the undertakings in the previous year and highlighted the 1996 policy commitments in the principal programme areas of the Planning, Environment and Lands Branch.

Land supply

10. Mr LEUNG advised that the Land Disposal Programme had been progressing on schedule. Since the Programme allowed flexibility, land which could not be disposed of for planning or other reasons could be replaced by other pieces of land so that the total amount of land for disposal in the current year would not be affected. He would also like members to note that there would be sufficient land to be disposed of for public and private housing development up to 2001.

11. To meet medium-term housing needs, Mr LEUNG said that the following measures would be taken to expedite the land production process -

  1. To advance planning studies on areas with potentials for development;
  2. To review the densities of housing developments with a view to increasing the number of housing units;
  3. To explore the feasibility of redeveloping under-utilized community areas into residential areas;
  4. To consider increasing the plot ratios of certain land;
  5. To examine the possibility of increasing the population capacity of new towns; and
  6. To consider re-zoning land designated for industrial uses.

12. As for the medium to long term strategy to meet housing needs from 2001 to 2011, Mr LEUNG said that the Administration would identify potential areas for development and conduct feasibility studies on these areas. Parallel actions would be taken to produce 3,000 hectares of land through reclamation for residential development and port-related activities.

13. As to the supply of private housing units, Mr R D Pope explained that because of the sluggish property market in the past few years, there was slow progress in the supply of private housing units. The number of private housing units to be produced from this year’s land sales programme was in line with the original estimates because the sites withdrawn so far had been replaced by other land. The property market appeared to be picking up and there would likely be a greater supply of private housing units in the years ahead. Mr LEUNG added that the lead time for housing production was at least three years.

Land use upon relocation of Kai Tak Airport

14. On land use upon relocation of the Kai Tak Airport and how it would integrate into the Territorial Development Strategy Review (TDSR), Mr LEUNG stated that the TDSR had already taken account of the planning of the Kai Tak site under the feasibility study on the South East Kowloon Development. Another study on the demand for industrial uses was underway and expected to be completed by the end of 1996. The results of these studies would identify the development needs of the community and would serve as a guide to future planning and development.

Provision for open-storage and parking facilities

15. Mr LEUNG advised that the implementation of the recommendations in the study on parking demand had yet to be worked out with the Secretary for Transport. There would be a need to balance the community interest in the planning of land uses. Although some land in the North West New Territories had been re-zoned for open-storage uses, owners of these re-zoned land could not be compelled to make available their land for storage or parking uses. The Administration recognised the need for provision of parking facilities for container lorries, which ideally should be near container terminals. As such, adequate parking and port back-up facilities had been provided for in the planning of new container terminals.

16. Regarding the use of agricultural land for open-storage, Mr LEUNG explained that under the Town Planning Ordinance (Cap.131), "existing uses" (EUs), i.e. uses existed before the publication of Interim Development Permission Area Plan in 1990, were tolerated. Enforcement action would be taken against unauthorised developments which were not recognised as EUs and were causing environmental nuisances. Where owners of unauthorised developments were willing to provide in-situ improvements to alleviate environmental problems, the Administration would handle the cases flexibly and would consider re-zoning applications in the light of improvements made.

17. Dr K S PUN added that some owners of unauthorised developments had been trying to move their operation to sites re-zoned for open-storage uses. The Administration was also providing assistance to land owners in their application to the Town Planning Board for re-zoning of land for open-storage uses if their land was found to be suitable for such uses. Efforts were made to identify more parking spaces for container lorries. At members’ request, the Administration would provide a breakdown on the number and size of land sites which had been made available or earmarked for open-storage uses and parking facilities for container lorries, together with a map showing their respective locations.


Flood prevention

18. As regards flood control programmes, Mr Collier reported that there had been good progress in the Northern New Territories. In particular, 70% of Stage I of the Shenzhen River Training Scheme had been completed. Long term plans involved the expenditure of $4.8 billion on river training by the year 2004. With the completion of studies on drainage system improvement, comprehensive overall flood protection planning would be in place for both the New Territories and the urban area.

Park and Ride Scheme

19. The Chairman raised concern over the high parking charges at the Choi Hung station which might have defeated the purpose of the Park and Ride Scheme. He said that the high charges might be due to the premium. His concern was shared by other members who considered that parking charges at MTR stations should be lowered to facilitate implementation of the Scheme. Mr Pope assured members that the premium would be reasonably assessed by the Lands Department taking into account all factors of the site. Mr LEUNG added that recommendations for lowering of parking charges at MTR stations should more appropriately be dealt with by the Secretary for Transport, in his attempt to promote the Park and Ride Scheme.

The meeting closed at 4:00 p.m.
Legislative Council Secretariat
11 Novembr 1996

Last Updated on 21 August 1998