Development of the infrastructure for meeting the housing production target

The Necessary Infrastructure development

1. The Chief Executive's target of supplying 85,000 flats/year needs to be matched by a major infrastructure development programme. The infrastructure that we need to plan and construct may be -

  • site specific and small scale or local;

  • of district importance; or

  • of strategic importance.

The identification of the demand and the time we require for planning, design and construction of the infrastructure varies with magnitude. We need to adopt different approaches for each.

Development of the infrastructure

Site specific and small scale or local infrastructure

2. Generally, we apply this definition to housing sites that are individual lots in existing developed areas (pre-formed housing sites, re-development sites, change of land use or urban fringe sites) with roads, drains, water supply, etc., already available. We need to determine at the planning stage of the housing development if the existing local infrastructure has adequate capacity to meet the demand from the planned development. If the infrastructure has adequate spare capacity, we need only to provide the connections from the housing development to the existing infrastructure. These connections are funded by the developer and can be completed, without difficulty, when the housing is nearing completion.

3. If we determine that the existing local infrastructure has inadequate capacity, we need to commence immediately the planning, and seek allocation of funds for the design and construction of the necessary works. We need to construct the additional infrastructure at the same time as the housing development to ensure that it can be completed in time to meet the demand. This upgrading work is usually quite localised and funded from block allocations under the Capital Works Reserve Fund (CWRF). Provided the need is identified early, and there is no late change in the proposed number of housing units (and hence change of demand) we should have little difficulty in ensuring the infrastructure is in place before occupation of the housing. We would also explore the viability of entrusting the design and construction of projects such as minor roads and footbridges to the building developers. This could speed up construction work as interface problems with development projects can be reduced.

Infrastructure of district importance

4. The need for such infrastructure may arise from -

  • re-zoning and/or change in land-use of a large area (e.g. Anderson Road quarry to be formed for housing development) within an existing new town or the urban area. These are generally the major development areas in the current housing programme; or

  • the cumulative demand of a number of housing developments in the same district that were not planned when the existing infrastructure was originally designed. (They may be the result re-zoning, re-development or increase in development intensity).

5. The infrastructure we need to construct to meet such originally unplanned demand may include -

  • new service reservoirs for fresh and salt water supply;

  • fresh and salt water mains to be laid in existing roads, generally through existing residential areas to the new development;

  • upgrading of existing water pumping stations or water treatment plants;

  • widening of existing roads or improvement of existing road junctions by constructing flyovers, footbridges or pedestrian subways;

  • construction of additional sewers that usually must be laid in existing roads, generally through existing residential areas;

  • upgrading of existing sewage pumping stations or sewage treatment plants;

  • new gas mains, telephone lines, electricity supply cables, cable TV cables, etc., that usually must be laid in existing roads, generally through existing residential areas;

  • new schools, clinics, fire stations, ambulance depots, etc., for which the original development plan made no provision and that require the allocation of sites;

6. We face significant challenges in providing the planning and construction of some of this infrastructure in time to meet the housing demand. For example -

  • The planning and construction of new roads require long lead time. It will take more time to meet new statutory requirements such as Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). In most cases, district and trunk roads have already been planned in overall planning studies. To match the housing development, we may need to advance some of the road projects. We are looking into ways to streamline the planning and construction procedures to ensure the timely provision of roads.

  • The construction of additional schools, clinics, etc. is also problematic. The only available sites are in urban fringe areas and require extensive site formation and slope works before construction may proceed. Land resumption and clearance are usually necessary.

  • The laying of additional services in existing roads may cause traffic disruption, which rules out closures during peak hours lane. Because of noise problems, the construction works must then be carried out in the few hours between the morning and evening rush. We may need two or three years to lay a new service in these circumstances. In addition, high voltage electricity cables and fibre optic telephone cables are made to order and delivery may take up to two years before work can start.

7. For such projects we shall tackle these challenges as early as possible with a view to completing the necessary infrastructure before the flats are occupied.

Infrastructure of strategic importance

8. Strategic infrastructure is required to meet demands arising from major development in one or more districts, particularly the strategic growth areas. The demand may necessitate -

  • site formation and servicing of the development itself;

  • widening or realigning of existing rivers, nullahs or stream courses within and outside the development area to prevent flooding arising from additional and faster run-off of rainwater from the newly developed areas; and

  • to meet the demand from the ultimate population -

    • construction of new trunk roads to serve the district;

    • construction of railways to serve the district;

    • construction of new, or extension of existing water treatment plants and laying of associated trunk mains;

    • construction of new, or extension of existing sewage treatment plants and duplication of sewage outfall pipes or tunnels;

    • construction of new main supply lines for gas, electricity and telephone.

9. Such infrastructure needs arise from strategic growth areas. We are now undertaking comprehensive integrated planning and engineering feasibility studies for such areas. The studies include for completion of an EIA and TIA studies and preparation of an outline development plan. On completion of the studies we shall be able to progress immediately to preparation and gazetting of the Outline Zoning Plan under the Town Planning Ordinance; and to detailed design and statutory procedures for the road works, drainage, etc.. Generally, the infrastructure within the development is constructed at the same time as the site formation works and most infrastructure is available before commencement of the building works. The Territory Development Department, through their Project Managers, play an important co-ordinating role in these strategic growth areas to ensure that there should be no mismatch in the provision of infrastructure.

10. Outside the strategic growth areas, the provision of the " trunk " infrastructure requires a considerable planning, design and construction period. The projects may require more detailed EIA and TIA studies and a preliminary design study before land requirements can be finalised and before we can gazette projects under relevant ordinances (e.g. Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance for road projects). Detailed design may take two years or more and construction periods can be as long as three or four years. Generally the current infrastructure can cope with demand arising form the initial population intake and we shall ensure that external trunk infrastructure is completed as to meet demand as the population growth increases. At the same time, major studies are carried out at the strategic as well as regional levels to co-ordinate strategic decisions on development and infrastructure projects and to avoid any major significant mismatch in provision.

Current status of infrastructure planning for the housing sites in the first 5-year housing programme

11. The Government has compiled control lists of housing sites for the period 1997/98 - 2004/05, with planned completion dates and number of flats. The works departments and others already are planning the infrastructure needs of individual sites and provision of infrastructure should be completed without difficulty for smaller sites. Departments will also carry out their assessment of the cumulative infrastructure demand on district basis. The Secretary for Housing has at his disposal a Housing Project Action Fund for speeding up the implementation of infrastructural projects to facilitate housing development. Under the Housing Project Action Fund, there are currently a total of 61 projects with an estimated total project cost of $14.8 billion. $11.6 billion will be spent in the coming five years from 1997-98 to 2001-02.

Monitoring and management of the provision of infrastructure to meet the demands of the Housing Programme

12. A series of Committees and Working Groups have been established by the Steering Committee on Land Supply for Housing to implement and monitor the timely completion of the housing development at each site together with the necessary infrastructure. Three key departments (Housing Department, Lands Department and Territory Development Department) are charged with responsibility of taking forward each housing project and related infrastructure through the different stages from site identification to flat completion. They co-ordinate the efforts of other concerned departments, resolve problems, and implement housing and related infrastructure developments in accordance with the established programme. Problems which cannot be resolved at the departmental level are escalated to the central Government for resolution.

13. In the past four years, the Works Bureau has done much work to improve delivery of projects in the Public Works Programme (PWP). These measures include -

  • The setting up of a computerised Public Works Management System (PW_MS) to support proper management and monitoring, at all levels, of the delivery of every project in the PWP;

  • The revision of Public Works procedures and practices;

  • The requirement for completion of a Client Project Brief (by the client department and policy secretary) and a Preliminary Project Feasibility Study PPFS, by the works department, before a project may enter the PWP. The PPFS is required to ensure that a project is feasible, well defined in terms of programme, scope, cost and risk factors, and that the delivery resources and subsequent recurrent resources are identified before funds are earmarked for the project.

  • Strengthening of the project management culture in the works departments.

    • We have issued a Project Management Technical Manual and associated training materials.

    • We have commenced project management training for over 600 professional staff.

    • We have developed computerised staff resource forecasting models to enable departments to better plan and manage the allocation of necessary staff to individual projects. We are planning further enhancement of this model so that we can monitor actual staff utilisation against the original forecast.

    • We have restructured the works departments so that project managers are clearly identified and accountable for individual projects.

    • We have established a framework of meetings for bottom up reporting and top down management. Problems can be quickly escalated through these meetings until resolved. The meetings can be supported by reports generated from the PW_MS.

  • We have established a priority list of projects that require land resumption and clearance so that the Lands Department can allocate their staff first to the highest priority projects. We have assigned all housing related projects with the highest priority.

  • We have supported the Lands Department to develop a computerised staff resource model to support allocation and management of staff resources for land acquisition and clearance work.

  • and we shall closely monitor the work of individual works departments in the delivery of all housing related projects.

Further works measures to ensure timely completion of housing related infrastructure

14. We are now working on a system which will allow us to monitor the progress of all housing related projects. We plan to review the clauses that we usually include in our consultancy agreements and contracts so as to highlight the need for timely completion of projects. We shall also review our policy on the management of uncertainties or risks associated with projects. These risks, if not identified in the PPFS stage, allowed for in the programme and estimate and properly managed thereafter, can result in significant delays or additional costs to the project.


15. We have already identified the infrastructure needed to meet the demand arising from most of the housing sites in the control list for the next five years and the programmes and other details will be finalised in early 1998. We are confident that we can complete most of the infrastructure before intake of residents. We may face some difficulties to upgrade service infrastructure in existing streets of the urban areas but shall closely monitor such projects and encourage a proactive project management approach to overcome any difficulties. Trunk infrastructure required to meet the needs of Strategic Growth Areas will be planned and constructed over the longer term to meet the needs of the planned ultimate population. We wish to assure members that, together, Works Bureau and Housing Bureau will be closely monitoring and managing the housing sites and the associated infrastructure provision.