Town planning guidelines revised

April 14, 2023

The Town Planning Board today promulgated a set of revised guidelines on the application for open storage (OS) and port back-up (PBU) uses under Section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance.


The revised guidelines, which take immediate effect, set out the criteria for assessing planning applications for OS/PBU uses in rural areas classified into Categories 1 to 4. Lands under Category 2 are those where planning permission may be given for OS/PBU uses.


Following the revision, about 320ha from Categories 3 and 4 will be re-classified to Category 2. Of the 320ha, about 185ha are already occupied by brownfield and other uses, while the remaining 135ha can be considered by displaced operators for relocating their business.


The revised guidelines would expand the areas under Category 2 rural areas to cater for the displacement of brownfield uses arising from extensive development in the New Territories in the coming years, the board said.


With the implementation of new development areas and other development projects in full swing, brownfield areas to be resumed and cleared by the Government will increase from 30ha in the past few years to 200ha between now and 2026, involving such industries as construction, logistics, transportation and recycling.


Noting that most of these industries are making a contribution to the local economy, the board agreed that it is in the public’s interest to channel them to areas more suitable for brownfield uses by extending Category 2 coverage.


The board also noted that the Government’s long-term objective is to accommodate the brownfield operations in multi-storey buildings for modern industries. However, pending the availability of the planned multi-storey buildings and considering that not all brownfield operations can be operated within such buildings, the board believed that some brownfield uses may still need to operate in open air sites.


Stressing that the reclassification of categories did not imply condoning “destroy first, develop later”, the board said every planning application would be considered on individual merits having regard to the site conditions and other relevant planning considerations, as well as the technical assessments submitted by the applicants.


In addition, in order to make better use of land pending development within the new development areas, the board agreed that sympathetic consideration may be given to planning applications, subject to policy support, involving displaced OS/PBU uses affected by government projects to sites designated for development purpose within new development areas, with or without previous planning approvals.

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