Q5 Transitional housing projects
MR CHAN CHUN-YING (in Cantonese):
President, it is mentioned in the main question that some members of the construction sector have relayed that the construction standards set by the Government for transitional housing are too high, which are similar to the standards for permanent housing, such as the requirements for the provision of escalators, large windows and good ventilation and lighting. Transitional housing construction also takes time, and it follows very naturally that the cost will be high and the time required will be long.
Given its transitional nature, the construction standards should be lowered and compliance with basic structural and fire safety requirements should suffice. I believe it will be acceptable to us. However, the Secretary only stressed in the main reply that the procedures could be simplified provided that the safety and hygiene standards were met. These elements should, of course, be safeguarded, but the window size is not that relevant to safety and hygiene. May I ask if the Government will further review the construction standards for transitional housing? Otherwise, the Government will only create difficulties to the community groups which are willing to help resolve the housing problem of Hong Kong.
SECRETARY FOR TRANSPORT AND HOUSING (in Cantonese):
President, actually, in its first inter-departmental meeting, the task force already discussed the building standards for transitional housing. In October 2018, the Buildings Department issued the Guidelines on Applications for Special Modification or Exemption for Transitional Housing Initiatives in Domestic Buildings, with an aim to favourably consider housing standards and related requirements using a pragmatic approach and allow flexibility, provided that the requirements in respect of structure, hygiene, fire precaution and safety are not compromised.
Moreover, in November of the same year, TPB announced its agreement that transitional housing projects not exceeding five years, coordinated by the task force, in permanent buildings (including wholesale-converted industrial buildings in the “Commercial”, “Comprehensive Development Area” and “Other Specified Uses” annotated “Business” and “Residential” zones in the urban and new town areas) can be regarded as for temporary use, which is always permitted under the Outline Zoning Plan. In addition, the Chief Executive-in-Council approved in April this year the exemption of waiver fee, rent and associated costs for land applications related to the provision of transitional housing.
Accordingly, since the establishment of the task force in 19 June 2018, we have done a lot of work to remove the red tape and have striven to facilitate the related work through pragmatic and flexible means, with a view to expediting the implementation progress and increasing the number of housing units to be provided while ensuring that people can have a safe and hygienic living environment.