12 March 1997

LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and works
Legislative Council
Legislative Council Building
8 Jackson Road
Hong Kong

(Attn : Miss Odelia Leung)

Dear Sirs,

LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works
Lead Time for Production of Land and Housing

Thank you for your letter of 19 February 1997, inviting HKIP to give its views on the ways to improve the procedures and shorten the time for production of land and housing.

Based on the information contained in your attached information paper, HKIP has the following comments and suggestions :-

(a) Outline Planning Studies and Preliminary Engineering Feasibility Studies

While the Outline Planning Studies will produce a broad land use pattern and development framework, the Engineering Feasibility Studies will examine in greater detail the engineering feasibility and formulate a comprehensive development programme for implementation. For some projects, there may be scope to combine the Outline Planning Studies with the Preliminary Engineering Feasibility Studies, which may help reduce the time required for undertaking the planning studies.

(b) Town Planning Procedures

It is estimated that under the existing Town Planning Ordinance, it will take about 38 months for average cases and 27 months for fast-track cases for completion of the statutory planning process. The current procedures are certainly too lengthy and should be shortened. The Administration has already proposed in the Town Planning Bill the stipulation of a statutory time limit of nine months from expiry of the publication of the draft plan to its submission to the Governor-in-Council for approval. HKIP urges the early implementation of the proposals so as to streamline the plan-making procedures.

(c) Resumption and Clearance Procedures

It is estimated that the current procedures will take about 48 months to complete. Again, this is considered too lengthy. To speed up the procedures and to tackle the problem of inadequate manpower resources in the Lands Department, consideration may be given to contract out some of the tasks. Some pilot schemes have already been conducted by the Lands Department and after gaining the necessary experience, the scheme can be applied more widely. Resumption and clearance can also be carried out by phases such that resources can be concentrated on the most urgent tasks.

(d) Institutional Mechanism

It is very important to have an appropriate institutional mechanism to implement the development strategies. For the development of new towns, the Government has committed major manpower and financial resources for its implementation. The Territory Development Department is responsible for the overall co-ordination and a project vote has been set aside for the construction of various public work items. The implementation mechanism for the strategic development growth areas proposed under the Territorial Development Strategy Review, particularly for the land-based option, is by far not clear. The charts showing the planning and development process do not necessarily follow that the resources allocated to different departments can be synchronised to ensure the timely production of land. It must be supported by a practical implementation policy.

(e) The Role of the Private Sector

To reduce the lead time for the production of land and housing, the private sector’s resources should be made use of. Once the development proposals are drawn up in the outline zoning plan and exhibited for public inspection, different development packages can be worked out and the private developers can be invited to actively participate in the remaining process, from land assembly or reclamation, to detailed design, land formation and building works.

The HKIP would like to point out that the procedures highlighted in the information paper is a generalisation of the process for production of land and housing. It does not apply to every project. It should also avoid giving the public the wrong impression that every private housing development will take 12 to 14 years to materialise.

Representatives from HKIP will be happy to meet with the Panel members to further discuss our views and suggestions on the ways to improve the existing procedures..

Yours faithfully,

Iris Tam
Hong Kong Institute of Planners

Last Updated on 21 August 1998