For Discussion on 15 April 1997

LegCo Panel on Housing and
LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands & Works
Conversion of Industrial Land
for Residential Use


1. Two recent consultancy studies related to the provision of industrial land have indicated that there will be a surplus of industrial land in Hong Kong, thereby providing an opportunity for conversion to other uses. This paper briefs Members on the possibility of converting some of the surplus industrial land for residential use.


2. In view of the structural changes in the industrial sector in Hong Kong, Planning Department commissioned a Study on the "Provision of Industrial Premises and the Development of Planning Guidelines and Design Parameters for New Industrial Areas and Business Parks (PIPNIB)" and "Case Studies Arising from the Study on the Restructuring of Obsolete Industrial Areas (ROBINA Case Study)" in 1994 and 1995 respectively.

3. The purpose of the PIPNIB study is to examine the types of industrial land required to meet the needs of changing industries, to formulate up-to-date planning standards and guidelines for new industrial areas, and to revise the industrial land forecasting methodology. The ROBINA Case Study is to establish the operational feasibility, financial viability and institutional practicability of restructuring approaches identified in the earlier Study on the Restructuring of Obsolete Industrial Area completed in 1993. Together, they provide an overview on the trends in industrial developments in Hong Kong and make proposals on land use changes in response to the trends.

4. The forecast of land requirements for general industrial use (GIU) up to the year 2011 under the studies has indicated there would be a potential surplus reservation of about 300 hectares. However, there is a strong case for maintaining a reasonable proportion of land for industrial use in support of the manufacturing sector, which still perform an important economic role. For example, manufacturing contributed 9% of the Gross Domestic Product in 1994 and 18% of the overall employment in 1995. Furthermore, new industrial land or restructuring of existing industrial areas would be required to meet the new standards and market demands of new industrial and industry-related activities, which are more diverse and management- and business-oriented in nature. There will also be stronger demands for special industrial uses (SIU), which are high-value added and high-technology based. After discounting the additional land required for new industrial developments, additional land to meet new planning standards, and the land required for conversion to SIU, the surplus in land for GIU would be between 115 to 140 hectares.

5. In view of the above, the studies suggest that it is feasible to rezone some industrial land at suitable locations for other uses. Opportunities could be taken to upgrade existing industrial areas, achieve environmental improvements, and address the demand of land for other uses, such as commercial, office and residential. Nevertheless, when considering the rezoning of surplus land reservation, a balanced and cautious approach should be adopted. Such an approach should, on the one hand, aim at minimizing disruption to economic activities and employment in established industrial areas, and on the other hand, retain a reasonable level of undeveloped industrial land both to cater for future industrial development and to respond to new demands.

Rezoning of Surplus Industrial Land for Residential and Other Uses

6. Rezoning of industrial land for other uses has long been a continuous exercise. In the past, some industrial land has been converted to residential use to meet changing circumstances. To take account of the findings of the two studies, Planning Department has already started to actively explore further possible scope to reduce the surplus land reservation for GIU. While the production of more housing land is a major concern, it must be recognized that not all industrial sites are suitable for conversion to residential use mainly due to the industrial/residential interface problems as well as the mismatch in infrastructure and community facilities. The following possibilities of converting industrial land to residential and other uses have been identified :

  1. Change of use of some of the undisposed industrial land
    1. In view of the pressing demand for residential land and other changes in the circumstances, some undisposed industrial land has already been rezoned to residential use, e.g. Yuen Chau Kok in Sha Tin and Tuen Mun Area 18.
    2. Part of the undisposed land reserved for industrial uses at the northern part of West Kowloon Reclamation could be considered for rezoning for residential use. Action is in hand to study the feasibility and impacts of the proposed rezoning.
  2. Change of use of some of the government flatted factory sites

    Generally speaking, the government flatted factories are located within the urban core and could be considered for providing useful solution space to improve the existing industrial area as well as for converting to residential use. Preliminary feasibility studies on some of these flatted factories for residential development will soon be commissioned.

  3. Change of use of industrial land at the fringe of industrial areas to commercial/office uses to remove existing industrial/residential interface problems

    Industrial sites at the fringes of existing industrial areas could be rezoned to non-pollution-sensitive uses (e.g. commercial/office) to act as a buffer between the remaining industrial uses and neighbouring residential developments. Subject to environmental acceptability, residential uses could also be considered. Action is in hand to investigate the possible zoning amendments.

  4. Change of use of industrial land at major transport interchanges to conform with the strategic planning principles to provide employment nodes at such interchanges

    The redevelopment of industrial land at major transport interchanges (e.g. MTR station) to other uses to capitalize on the provision of easy transport is in conformity with the strategic planning principles to provide employment nodes at major transport interchanges. Action is in hand to investigate the possible zoning amendments.

  5. Possible redevelopment of obsolete industrial areas for commercial and/or residential uses.

    Due to the fragmented ownership pattern of most obsolete industrial buildings, comprehensive redevelopment of entire industrial areas in one go is not always possible. However, any redevelopment on a piecemeal basis might not only generate transitional industrial/residential interface problems which may last for a significant period, but also impose severe constraints on the surrounding existing industrial uses. This will require further investigation.

The Way Forward

7. The two consultancy studies on industrial land are substantially completed. Relevant bodies such as the Town Planning Board, the Economic Advisory Committee, the International Business Committee, the Land and Building Advisory Committee, and the Industry and Technology Development Council are currently being consulted on the findings of these studies.

8. To ensure that any change of use would be undertaken in a co-ordinated and orderly manner, it is intended that the change of use should be effected mainly through the statutory rezoning mechanism. When ready, rezoning proposals will be circulated for departmental comments and local views through District Boards would also be sought. Subsequently, they will be submitted to the Town Planning Board for consideration. If agreed, they will be published for public views as part of the statutory planning procedure.

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
April 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998