Information Paper for
Legislative Panel on Home Affairs
Meeting on 8 February 1999
Development of Community Halls
This paper briefs Members on community hall development since the 1989 moratorium, including the current policy on community hall development, as well as the current utilization of community centre facilities.
2. As a result of the low utilization rate of community centres/halls, a moratorium was imposed in 1989 on the "automatic" construction of new community centres/halls based solely on population, pending a review of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines (HKPSG) for community halls. Planning Department completed the review in 1996 and a public consultation exercise was conducted in late 1996.
3. Subsequently, the Administration fine-tuned the HKPSG which were eventually finalized in 1998. Home Affairs Department, in conjunction with Planning Department, have briefed the 18 Provisional District Boards on the outcome, and Planning Department is now preparing the formal promulgation of the revised HKPSG for community halls (please see the Appendix).
4. Under the 1989 version of the HKPSG, a community centre meant a community hall and a welfare block of fixed floor area. There was a population specification for the provision of community centre facilities, with a District Community Centre (DCC), Area Community Centre (ACC) and Neighbourhood Community Centre (NCC) being provided according to various population threshold levels.
5. Under the revised HKPSG for community halls, the term "community hall" will be used instead of community centre. A community hall will usually have a standardized size of 1260m2
(in Gross Floor Area). Future community halls will usually form part of an integrated development, instead of being stand-alone developments. In addition, future community halls will no longer necessarily be co-located with welfare services, although welfare services/facilities would often be one of the main joint users in an integrated development.
6. The provision of future community halls will be judged on a "need basis" on individual merits, taking into account the following factors:-
- population size;
- area characteristics and community aspirations;
- location of the area concerned;
- availability of existing community halls or similar facilities nearby;
- the usage rates of nearby community halls;
- accessibility of nearby community halls to the subject area; and
- availability of alternative accommodation for community activities and their ease of access.
7. The Director of Home Affairs, in consultation with the District Officers, will assess the need for the provision of community halls. Views and aspirations of the local community will be taken into account.
Future Provision of Community Halls
8. In view of the revision of the HKPSG for community halls, Home Affairs Department has undertaken a review of the 68 reserved community hall sites to assess the projected needs for new community halls. Where no urgent or special need for a community hall is identified, the site will be released for other purposes, such as schools or public housing. Where genuine need is identified, concrete development proposals would be drawn up either for the reserved site with the community hall as the basic component and other facilities incorporated into the development; or with a community hall being incorporated into an integrated development at a nearby area, releasing the original community hall site.
9. So far, Home Affairs Department has obtained the Finance Committee's funding approval for three community hall projects in Sai Ying Pun, Mong Kok, and Happy Valley. Twelve other joint development projects have been drawn up and are awaiting funding approval. Home Affairs Department is working closely with other Departments to finalize concrete proposals for seven further projects.
Utilization of Existing Community Centres/Halls
10. A review of the utilization of the 77 existing community halls (42 community centres and 35 community halls) has led to the conclusion that the majority still serve genuine local needs and should be retained. Most community centres/halls have high utilization rates, especially at weekends and evenings. District Officers will continue to work with the local communities to improve utilization of the community centres/halls and encourage active local use particularly during the weekdays.
11. At the same time, Home Affairs Department is exploring the possibility of redeveloping a small number of community centres/halls which have good redevelopment potential. In some instances, redeveloping the community centre/hall and adjoining government buildings in one combined integrated development will release more land for other priority uses and better utilize our scarce land resources.
12. In parallel with Housing Department's estate redevelopment schemes, Home Affairs Department is assessing the provision of community and welfare facilities to serve the housing estate residents and the population in the vicinity. Joint developments can better serve the community and provide additional land for housing development.
13. Community halls provide venues and focal points for a range of community activities including civic education activities, social gatherings, training courses, celebrations, and recreational and cultural activities organized by local community organizations. The conference room within the hall is used by various local groups such as District Boards, Area Committees, Owners Corporations for meeting purposes. Community halls also serve as temporary shelters for people in need during natural disasters, emergency situations and inclement weather. As part of Home Affairs Department's mission to promote greater involvement and participation in community building activities as well as to enhance and foster social cohesion, we believe that it is still essential to provide such community facilities. We welcome Hon. Members' constructive views on the provision, development and management of community halls.
Home Affairs Department