200 hectares of brownfield sites eyed for projects

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The government aims to take back some 200 hectares of brownfield sites over the next three years as it steps up efforts to provide compensation and administrative support to business operators, Secretary for Development Bernadette Linn Hon-ho said.

Linn said the government has resumed about 30 hectares of brownfield sites and cleared them for development. Those sites are owned by some 400 operators who will be informed when they need to leave the premises "as soon as possible."

Lands Department assistant director Lily Chiu Lee-lee said the government will support business operators affected by the resumption of brownfield sites with monetary compensation and administrative support.

"Lands Department colleagues will contact affected operators as early and proactively as possible to inform them of the specific date of removal and of the various channels of government assistance so they can make preparations according to their needs," Linn said.

Brownfields, defined by local authorities as agricultural land used instead for industrial purposes, have been touted by advocacy groups and the government as a major solution to the city's land supply and housing crunch.

Developing brownfields in the rural New Territories could offer a short-to-medium-term solution to the housing shortage as the government works on other large-scale development projects such as the Kau Yi Chau Artificial Islands.

Linn said brownfield operators who intend to relocate their operations may be required to submit an application for rezoning, a development proposal for reprovisioning their operations, as well as technical assessment reports.

Some 60 percent - around 1,000 of the 1,600 hectares of brownfields identified in the New Territories - will be developed for high-density housing.

"Through development, we hope to make better use of these precious land resources," Linn said.

The Development Bureau will also assist brownfield operators to identify suitable government land for relocation and short-term tenancies.

Linn said the government has already granted use for eight brownfield sites with a total area of 18,500 square meters over the past two years, including sites in the Kwu Tung North/Fanling North New Development Areas, and Hung Shui Kiu/Ha Tsuen New Development Area.

It is also processing the tender of three other sites - with a total area of about 4,500 square meters - for uses including vehicle maintenance and industrial and storage use.

In response to operators' grievances, Linn vowed to step up efforts to provide more information on sites that could feasibly accommodate brownfield operations by March.

She added that the government has helped 21 business operators - including from logistics, timber production and vehicle maintenance industries - obtain planning permission involving more than 20 hectares of land since July 2019.