LegCo Paper No. CB(1)1488/96-97
(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, 15 April 1997, at 2:30 pm
in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon TSE Wing-ling

Member attending :

    Hon LEE Wing-tat(Non-Panel Member)
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han (Non-Panel Member)
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan (Non-Panel Member)
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung (Non-Panel Member)
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee (Non-Panel Member)

Members absent :

    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, OBE, FEng, JP
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon SIN Chung-kai

Public officers attending :

Planning, Environment and Lands Branch
Mr Patrick LAU
Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands
Mr Stanley WONG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Housing Branch
Mr Martin K K CHEUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Housing

Planning Department
Government Town Planner/Housing and Land Supply
Mr Joseph LEUNG
Government Town Planner/Metro

Clerk in attendance :

Mrs Vivian KAM
Assistant Secretary General 1 (Acting)

Staff in attendance :

Miss Becky YU
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)3

I Election of Chairman

In the absence of a quorum for a joint-Panel meeting at the beginning of the meeting, the meeting proceeded as a meeting of the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works.

II Development of military sites and conversion of industrial land for residential use

(LegCo Papers No. CB(1) 1278/96-97(01) and (02))

2. The Chairman advised that the purpose of the meeting was to discuss the related issues of development of military sites, and conversion of industrial land for residential use.

Development of military sites

3. At the Chairman’s invitation, the Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands/Lands & Planning (DS for PEL/L&P) advised that two consultancy studies had been completed on eight major ex-military sites. The consultants had recommended development parameters for seven of the sites which together would produce 7,741 residential units, while development of the eighth site, namely the Burma Lines site, would be further examined. The major criteria considered were that of the planning intention of the areas concerned, traffic and infrastructural capacities, environmental impact and urban design requirements. The development constraints and the proposed improvement works had been set out in the annex of the information paper.

Development density

4. Some members were dissatisfied with the relatively low density of residential developments proposed. Hon LEE Wing-tat was of the view that the proposed plot ratio of 1.6 for the Perown Barracks and Gordon Hard was way below the plot ratio of 8 to 10 which was possible for high density developments. Furthermore, its site area of 26.5 hectares was very significant as compared to the 45 hectares approved for the whole of Hong Kong in 1996; any under-utilization would be wasteful of land resources. In making reference to the site at Pearl Island, he said that the problem of road network constraints quoted by the Administration was not acceptable having regard to the numerous works projects in progress such as Route 3 and the widening of Castle Peak Road. Neither was the alleged constraint of conformity with the character of adjacent developments convincing as this would preclude the addition of high-density developments in low-density areas. Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung also cautioned that planning should not be based solely on existing traffic and infrastructural facilities.

5. Hon Albert HO Chun-yan shared similar concerns. Notwithstanding the Administration’s earlier advice that sufficient supply of land was the solution to the housing problem in Hong Kong, the many constraints on traffic and infrastructural facilities now quoted appeared to suggest that the problem was not with a shortage of land. He expressed worries that the criteria adopted might be too conservative and that this might result in land being underbuilt. He asked for a copy of the consultants’ report, and also wanted to ascertain the time when instruction was given to the consultants and whether they had been requested to take account of the territorial needs. Hon TSANG Kin-shing was dissatisfied that the Administration was promoting low-density developments for luxury flats and pushing up land price at the expense of solving housing problems in Hong Kong. He suggested that traffic improvements should be possible to increase the density of the site at the British Military Hospital.

6. In response to members’ concerns, the Government Town Planner/Housing and Land Supply (GTP/H&LS) made the following points:

  1. instructions to the consultants were made in 1995. In coming up with the recommendations, the consultants had given regard to both existing and future traffic and infrastructural capabilities as well as other considerations and the overall territorial housing needs;
  2. planning guidelines were not applied rigidly and flexibility was introduced to maximize plot ratios where possible; e.g. in the Perowne group of sites, a plot ratio of 3 had been proposed for one of the sites considered suitable for home ownership schemes despite a plot ratio of 1.3 for the existing development in the district. Neither would low-density developments be proposed across the board. In the Territorial Development Strategy Review, a number of new strategic growth areas had been identified for high-density development;
  3. as opposed to planned developments which had already been incorporated in outline zoning plans, the ex-military sites in question were in-fill sites which were not included in the original plans. As such, the sites would need to be developed in harmony with existing developments in the areas concerned and supported by the requisite traffic and infrastructural facilities;
  4. with regard to the two sites in Pearl Island and the Perowne Barracks, congestion along Castle Peak Road and Tuen Mun Road was a cause for concern. Taking into account the fact that works projects in progress were for relieving congestions on the two thoroughfares and the development of nearby sites, further increasing the density of the two sites as suggested by members would aggravate the congestion problem. There was a need to strike a balance between the competing claims of housing and traffic needs;
  5. as regards the site at the British Military Hospital, the consultants had been requested to consider the possibility of constructing a bypass through Oi Man Estate to enhance traffic support for the increased density. The consultants’ advice however was that this would not be technically feasible; and
  6. for the site at the Blackdown Barracks proposed for the development of a Private Sector Participation Scheme, architects from the Housing Department who took part in the planning also agreed with the consultants that the plot ratio had been maximized to the extent possible.

Members shared the concern on competing claims but stressed that with the scarce land resources in Hong Kong, a choice would have to be made between a peaceful living environment and a solution to the acute housing problem.

Consultants’ reports

7. On members’ request for the consultants’ reports, DS for PEL/L&P advised that there were executive summaries of the reports. The executive summaries had been considered by the Committee on Planning and Land Development and contained relevant information requested by members such as that of traffic considerations. He undertook to provide copies of the executive summaries to the Panel, and would also welcome members’ inspection of the full reports at the Planning Department (PD) if they so wished.


Ferry services

8. Hon James TO Kun-sun suggested that more innovative ideas could be used at the planning stage such as the construction of bypasses and piers; the Chairman added that he had also proposed the promotion of ferry services at meetings of the Transport Panel to improve traffic having regard to the geographical features of Hong Kong. GTP/H&LS explained that to enable the commercially viable operation of ferry services, a high concentration of population was required.

Environmental impact

9. Referring to paragraph 7(c) of the information paper, the Chairman sought clarification on the statement that the noise mitigation measure of air-conditioning was not preferred by the Environmental Protection Department (EPD). GTP/H&LS said in response that as a general policy, EPD would only accept air-conditioning for noise mitigation purpose as a last resort. For the Blackdown Barracks site, EPD had only accepted this after having been repeatedly persuaded of the housing need in the area. This did not necessarily represent a change in policy on the part of EPD but was applicable only for the particular site in question.

Kowloon Tsai Married Quarters site

10. In response to Hon Albert HO Chun-yan on the development potential of the Kowloon Tsai Married Quarters site upon removal of the Kai Tak Airport, GTP/H&LS advised that the site was situated adjacent to a number of Special Control Areas in the Kowloon Tong area. As regards Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee’s suggestion for allocating the site to the nearby Baptist University and the City University of Hong Kong both of which were short of space for student quarters, GTP/H&LS affirmed that PD was in the process of locating suitable sites for university students’ quarters.

Phased developments

11. In order to provide for flexibility in development, the Chairman and Hon LEE Wing-tat suggested that phased developments should be considered. Lands which were awaiting developments could be used for other temporary purposes, such as recreation, in the meantime pending the completion of infrastructural facilities. GTP/H&LS affirmed that phased developments had in fact been considered. The members’ views as well as other options would be further examined and, where appropriate recommendations would be made to the Town Planning Board for its consideration.

12. Hon James TO Kun-sun recalled that the Administration had made reference to the financial gains of the military sites in question when the agreements were made in 1994-95. At the Chairman’s request, the Administration undertook to provide information on the basis of assessment of the financial benefits, and a comparison of the then estimated and the current financial benefits of the military sites concerned.


Conversion of industrial land for industrial use

13. The Principal Assistant for Planning, Environment and Lands/Planning (PAS for PEL/P) briefly introduced the paper. In the light of structural changes in the industrial sector in Hong Kong, PD had commissioned two consultancy studies to examine the types of industrial land required to meet the changing needs and to establish the feasibility of restructuring obsolete industrial area. The findings revealed an increased demand of land for special industrial use (SIU) as opposed to general industrial use (GIU), and had identified a surplus in land for GIU of between 115 to 140 hectares. Consultation with relevant bodies on the consultancy’s findings were being undertaken, and a statutory planning procedure would follow.

Land for industrial developments

14. While supporting the principle of converting surplus industrial land for residential use, Hon CHAN Yuen-han cautioned that careful planning was called for and sufficient land should be reserved for industrial use and for future developments; she also enquired about the timeframe for the consultation. Her views were echoed by Hon TSANG Kin-shing who further suggested that due consideration should be given to the other factors of improving mass transit services to promote the competitiveness of industries, and assisting the trade to enhance skills and technology.

15. In response, PAS for PEL/P emphasized that the Administration recognized the importance of providing land for industrial use in support of the manufacturing sector, as set out in paragraph 4 of the information paper. On the member’s concern about consultation, PAS for PEL/P advised that the consultants had undertaken consultation with the industrial sector and that due consultation would also be made with relevant committees within the Administration. The consultation was expected to complete by June 1997 and would be followed by other necessary procedures.

16. With regard to the Chairman’s enquiry on the potential surplus reservation in land of about 300 hectares, PAS for PEL/P clarified that this represented the total potential surplus land and that a net surplus of between 115 to 140 hectares was expected after discounting future demands for SIU. He added that acceptance of the consultants’ recommendations would lead to a change in the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines.

Multiple ownership

17. Hon LEE Wing-tat also indicated support for the Administration’s proposals. He sought clarification on whether the same principle would apply to the West Kowloon Reclamation and developments in South East Kowloon, and on the solution to the complicated issue of multiple ownership of obsolete industrial land. PAS for PEL/P confirmed that the same principle would apply to developments quoted if the consultants’ recommendations were accepted by the Administration. The question of multiple ownership had also been considered by the consultants and one possible solution would be to empower organizations such as the future Urban Renewal Authority to resume land under such circumstances. Hon LEE Wing-tat welcomed such an idea and highlighted the importance for the Administration to inject land and financial resources to achieve its target.

Compensation policy

18. Hon Albert HO Chun-yan enquired about the compensation policy including that for relocating affected tenants, and the land premium which would be payable if the lands were to be resumed by private developers. PAS for PEL/P said in reply that there were established compensation policies for the resumption of both Government flatted factory sites and private land; a mechanism was also in place to calculate land premium which would be payable upon land resumption. As regards assistance to affected tenants, regard would be given to the types of industries involved and their competitiveness in the market. While every possible assistance would be provided by the Industry Department, specialized industries would in general have a more optimistic future in the long term than general ones.

19. On whether the aspect of compensation would form part of the consultation process, PAS for PEL/P explained that the Administration’s approach was now more general and broadbrush, and the exercise had yet to be developed to that detailed stage.

20. Referring to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) of 9% in 1994 and the overall employment figure of 18% in 1995 quoted in paragraph 4 of the information paper, Hon NGAN Kam-chuen enquired about the rationale for the difference in calendar years used as the basis. PAS for PEL/P said that this was so as the study spanned over two years but undertook to provide relevant GDP figures in 1995 for the Panel’s reference.


III Any other business

21. The meeting ended at 4:30 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
5 May 1997

Last Updated on 21 August 1998