Marine wisdom to solve a land issue: Marine Enclave and Floating Community

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Appendix 1

Examining the various measures and suggestions of developable land supply

On 29 August 2017, the government announced the formation of the Task Force on Land Supply (LSTF). LSTF had its first meeting on 6 September 2017. As per the information made available on the government website, there are 26 land supply measures proposed by the government and 12 measures that came from the public.

Government-initiated short-to medium-term measures include:

  • Land use review – rezoning green belts and community use to residential use
  • Increasing development intensity
  • Kai Tak Development
  • Developments atop railway premises
  • Urban renewal
  • Former Diamond Hill squatter area and quarry
  • Rezoning government land into commercial use
  • Energizing Kowloon East
  • New Central Waterfront
  • Redevelopment and conversion of industrial buildings

Government-initiated medium-to-long-term measures include:

  • Kwu Tung North and Fanling North
  • Tung Chung New Town extension
  • Hung Shui Kiu
  • Yuen Long South
  • Rezoning Tseung Kwan O Area 137
  • Property developments atop railway alignments
  • Developing brownfield sites and deserted agricultural land
  • Lantau development and conservation
  • Innovation and technology developments
  • Logistics and other industries

Government-initiated measures to increase land supply which include:

  • Reclamation outside Victoria Harbour
  • Cavern developments
  • Urban underground space
  • Streamlining the development approval process
  • Land premium arbitration pilot scheme
  • Development on the periphery of country parks

Civic society-initiated measures include:

  • Develop lands on short-term tenancies, temporary waiver or zoned “undetermined”
  • Building affordable housing on private lands
  • More reclamation outside Victoria Harbour
  • Filling up Plover Cove Reservoir
  • Developments on private lands zoned for recreational use
  • Reprovisioning or integrated development of large scale recreational facilities
  • Development on land zoned Village use
  • Relocating and reprovisioning of the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals
  • Residential developments atop Kwai Tsing Container Terminals
  • Development in country parks
  • Expedite the process of development on lands zoned as CDA
  • Development on land designated for military use

Brief Analysis of various land supply proposals

Filling up Plover Cove Reservoir

Thirty per cent of Hong Kong’s water supply comes from water catchment areas. The containment capacity of the Plover Cove Reservoir is 230 million cubic meters, which accounts for 40% of the total capacity of all reservoirs in Hong Kong. Considering the potential damage to water resources, water supply operation and environmental protection, this proposal is not deemed feasible.

Relocation and reprovisioning of the Kawi Tsing Container Terminals

There are a number of container terminal operators at the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals. They have all made substantial investments in the port facilities. Finding a replacement location for all operators is not an easy task. It will also take a long time to negotiate with the existing owners/operators prior to the planning and implementation of the reprovisioning. Costs are expected to be high and therefore the proposal’s cost effectiveness is questionable.

Residential development atop the Kwai Tsing Container Terminals (KTCT)

This is an interesting idea. Developments atop MTR facilities and public transport interchanges are not uncommon. At the moment, the KTCT is not well served by mass transit systems. Considering that the giant gantry cranes should remain in operation, it is envisaged that the residential developments would have to go on top of a deck some 40 storeys off the ground. While the technical issues are not that difficult to tackle, the resulting massing is not favourable in urban design terms. Since the enabling works are expected to be costly and premium deductible, the cost effectiveness of the government’s infrastructural provisions is questionable.

Turning the Fanling Golf Course into a residential development

The Fanling Golf Course (FGC) occupies about 170 hectares of land. Maintaining a high-quality golf course in Hong Kong is compatible with its status as Asia’s world city. There are ways of having residential developments in that area while keeping the FGC. If the FGC is willing to give up those portions of the golf course to the east of the Fan Kam Road for road widening, the increased traffic capacity can support a relatively large-scale residential development which could be built on those lands in the FGC’s vicinity and in the Ping Kong area.

Public-private joint venture in private developers’ land bank in the New Territories

Lands held by private developers are currently put on hold for various reasons. These include: difficulties in assembling a piece of sizable and undispersed land for development, absentee ownership, disagreements among beneficiaries of ancestral lands in the New Territories, adverse possession, and most critically, that the existing road networks cannot support proposed developments. Joining hands with the government in developing these lands might not necessarily resolve all these issues as there is, at the moment, no established mechanism to enable such kind of cooperation.

New Development Areas/ Brownfield sites

Government-led New Development Area (NDA) developments in Hung Shui Kiu, Yuen Long South, Kwu Tung North, and Fanling North are the right direction to better plan and utilize these areas in a comprehensive manner. One of the reasons for the fierce objections that have been raised against the developments could be due to the reluctance on the part of the government to come to terms with the stakeholders on compensation at the planning stage. There is also no territory-wide planning of the reprovisioning of displaced operations on brownfields. These NDAs occupy about 15.52 sq km and would deliver about 150,000 residential units, accommodating approximately 436,000 persons.

Urban Renewal

There are few sites that can provide redevelopment gains. In fact, some of the old areas are already very congested and they suffer from a lack of communal facilities and open space. The Urban Renewal Authority might have to alter its mandate to focus more on social merits and planning gain. In addition, the mechanisms of acquiring old residential units need to be revisited.

Periphery of Country Parks

The areas covered by Hong Kong’s country parks are defined by the Country Park Ordinance (Cap 208). There are at the moment 24 country parks and 22 special control areas, with a total area of approximately 440 SQ KM. There are mixed views on whether or not to pursue developments on the periphery of country parks. Doctoral Exchange believes that the government should first and foremost try to reach a consensus with stakeholders on principles under which development in country parks could be allowed. At the same time, the government should identify the conditions under which other areas could be categorized as country parks. This exercise could facilitate a re-definition and the redrawing of boundaries of country parks. The government has so far not carried out any comprehensive territory-wide study, but has only asked the Hong Kong Housing Society to initiate studies on sites in Shui Chuen O and Tai Lam Country Park. Preliminary analysis says the latter is not suitable for large-scale public housing developments because they would affect the entrance to the country park near the open carpark, and that they would practically sit on the trails. The topography of the site is also very steep.

Reclamation outside Victoria Harbour

Reclamation is the most common practice in producing developable land supply in many countries and cities, provided that such reclamation would not cause unacceptable impacts on the environment. Reclamation is the best ingredient in the so-called “cocktail therapy” in the government’s multi-pronged approach. We are in support of the East Lantau Metropolis (ELM) idea as it is a sizable reclamation and it is also at a strategic location. However, the scale and the location of the ELM should be planned in such a way as to not affect navigation channels and the marine environment.

Streamlining the development approval process

For developments involving land use changes, planning proposals would have to be submitted to the Town Planning Board for approval. During this process, the Planning Department often finds it difficult to reconcile different views among various government departments, partly because of “silo effects”. And even if a planning application receives approval, the subsequent land premium negotiation is another tedious exercise. When building plans are submitted to the Building Authority for approval under the Central Processing System, it might have different interpretations on certain calculations regarding a particular design parameter, compared with how other departments such as the Lands Department or the Planning Department see the matter. Doctoral Exchange therefore suggests that a special task force be set up under the Development Bureau to play the role of “project manager” to coordinate the views from all relevant departments. The land premium arbitration pilot scheme could also be one way of speeding up land premium negotiations.

Appendix 2

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