19   Opportunities for Land Use Change


19.1 New development areas

Types of new development area

New development areas can be defined as substantial areas available for urban development which are not currently under such use. They may be divided into:

  1. areas which have been or could be reclaimed from the seabed, and
  1. land-based areas, comprising natural hill slopes or areas which have been previously or are currently under non-urban uses such as quarrying.

The new development area may include reclamation where development has been built at present.


Much of the expansion of urban development in the Metro Area in the past has been based on reclamation from the seabed. The Study on Harbour Reclamations and Urban Growth (SHRUG) Study in the 1980s identified a number of major potential reclamations around the Harbour which have been taken to represent the long term future extent of sea-based new development areas in strategic planning studies up to and including the Territorial Development Strategy (TDS) of 1998. These are listed in Table 19.1 together with the populations proposed for them in TDS. However, public concern about the extent of encroachment by reclamations into Victoria Harbour since the mid-1990s has led to substantial cut-backs in the currently proposed reclamations and hence the population and employment they will be able to accommodate. Table 19.1 shows the latest population capacity estimates for the reclamations, although it should be noted that the figure given for Western District Development is a broad estimate only as the proposals have yet to be finalised. The major reclamations are located in Figure 19.1 and their purpose and current scope for change are discussed below.

Figure 19.1 New Development
Figure 19.1 New development areas
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West Kowloon Reclamation

19.1.4 The West Kowloon Phase 1 reclamation is complete. There is no programme for the second phase, which would comprise the reclamation of the reprovisioned Yau Ma Tei Typhoon Shelter, which forms an embayment in the new land area. The Reclamation was originally formed to carry the major transport corridors serving Chek Lap Kok Airport, under the Airport Core Projects Programme: the Airport Railway and the West Kowloon Expressway. In addition to these facilities several sites have been developed or are under development, particularly adjacent to the Olympic and Kowloon railway stations. There are nevertheless opportunities to amend land uses in parts of the area. A major group of sites adjacent to the new waterfront in the south of the reclamation has been set aside for an Integrated Arts, Cultural and Entertainment District and was recently subject to an international design competition. The Harbour Plan Study has suggested that in the long term the Typhoon Shelter, if partially reclaimed, represents an opportunity for the development of a tourism cluster, but problems of water quality and reprovisioning of marine uses would need to be resolved before this could be realised.

Table 19.1 Projected 2016 population and employment in new reclamations in Metro
Reclamation Population capacity


Population capacity

Current proposal


Current proposal

West Kowloon 176,500 186,000 89,100
S. East Kowloon Dev't (inc. Kai Tak) 318,500 250,000 60,700
Western District Development 135,800 119,000* 400
Tsuen Wan Bay 31,000 45,000 11,600
Telegraph Bay 20,700 10,000 7,000
Central and Wanchai 10,000 0 64,000
Hung Hom Bay not SGA 11,200 11,500
Cha Kwo Ling and Yau Tong Bay not SGA 28,000 9,900
Aldrich Bay not SGA 30,000 200
Sham Tseng not SGA 14,000 100
S1 = Planning Department assumption for Scenario 1 of KDS Additional Scenario Testing.
* This is the proposed population level for the reclamation area when commencing the review study and hence it was taken as the working assumption. Subsequently, a revised scheme with a population level of 70,000 was put forward for public consultation in late 2000. However, the population level is likely to be further reduced as a result of public views on the scale of reclamation previously proposed.

South East Kowloon Development

The site of the previous Kai Tak Airport together with an adjacent area of potential reclamation in Kowloon Bay has been subject to a number of planning studies. The outcome of the most recent, the Revised Scheme for South East Kowloon Development, which has substantially cut back the scale of reclamation previously proposed, has now been incorporated in OZPs for the area. The development is planned to accommodate a population of 250,000 persons in public and private housing with associated community facilities. In addition, a major tourism node is proposed on the tip of the Kai Tak runway, including provision for a cruise terminal, aviation museum and leisure/entertainment centre. Other major facilities within the overall development include a Metropolitan Park and an international sports stadium. The development is expected to offer some 55,000 jobs.

Central and Wanchai Reclamation

This is a further long-standing reclamation proposal which was significantly cut back in response to public concern about encroachment of the Harbour. The Central part of the reclamation was originally intended to provide an expansion area for the Central CBD. However, the primary justification of the reclamation is now to accommodate major transport infrastructure in the form of the Central and Wanchai Bypass and the new North Island Line, both of which will be placed underground. With the cut-back in area, land uses are restricted to a new Government Office Complex on the Tamar site and some limited tourism-related commercial development, including a Festival Market in the west. The remaining areas of the reclamation are currently proposed mainly for a new promenade with open space and attractions along the entire waterfront.

Western District Development

A number of studies have been undertaken on Hong Kong Island West, incorporating different options for reclamation near Green Island. The results of these studies have been brought together by Planning Department in the Western District Development Strategy. This aims to integrate development on reclamation near Green Island with urban renewal and restructuring proposals in Kennedy Town and Sai Ying Pun. The recommended proposals for reclamation at Green Island are severely reduced compared with previous schemes and there is as yet no commitment to this reclamation or to the land use distribution proposed for it.

Tsuen Wan Bay

This is a limited reclamation adjacent to the KCRC West Rail station at Tsuen Wan and planned to accommodate residential development and ancillary open space only. 

Telegraph Bay

Telegraph Bay is now being development for Cyberport, offering land for high-tech industry and associated residential and supporting facilities.

Land-based areas

A number of large new areas of existing land have been identified in previous studies as offering opportunities to accommodate urban uses. The population and employment capacities of these, derived in their respective studies, are given in Table 19.2. Their locations are shown in Figure 19.1.

Table 19.2 Projected 2016 population and employment in land-based new development areas
Location Population Employment
Blackdown Barracks & Diamond Hill



Jordan Valley & Quarry



Anderson Road Quarry & Po Lam Road



Much smaller opportunities for land-based new development areas depend on the use of underground locations. A study entitled "Space Underground: The Potential in Hong Kong for Development in Man-made Caverns (SPUN)" completed in 1989 concluded that in many places the topography and geology of Hong Kong was suitable for creating caverns and that such locations could be used to accommodate a number of uses, particularly the less neighbourly, including utility installations, storage and car parking. Up to now only limited use has been made of this solution in Hong Kong, the prime example being the Island West Refuse Transfer Station beneath Mount Davis.

Underground space, not necessarily in the form of caverns, can also be used in conjunction with regular commercial and residential development as part of a comprehensive plan to make the best use of limited space. For example, schemes have been put forward for extending shopping areas in Central through provision of retail floorspace underground, particularly under roads or open space. In some Asian cities, such as Seoul, shop-lined pedestrian subways follow the routes of main surface roads and underground railways, providing traffic-free all-weather pedestrian routes across town. Similarly, the provision of car-parks under open spaces, also common in overseas cities, could facilitate the pedestrianisation of parts of existing congested areas such as Causeway Bay.


19.2 Urban renewal

Need for redevelopment

Urban renewal can take the form of either clearance/redevelopment or rehabilitation. Redevelopment involves the clearance of land and rebuilding. Improved layouts and building design, levels of facility provision and land use interfaces can be achieved through comprehensive redevelopment. Rehabilitation consists of activities to improve a building's structural integrity and safety, or to enhance the physical characteristics of an area. Rehabilitation can be appropriate depending on the building's degree of physical decay, although the ageing of the structure and possible need for eventual redevelopment must also be considered.

Private sector redevelopment is a routine process of urban development undertaken by owners and developers with the aim of maximising the financial returns on land ownership. Redevelopment may be sought by government for the achievement of objectives which may not be well served by the normal functioning of the development market. These relate primarily to issues of economic use of land, safety, public health and housing adequacy, environmental conditions, and infrastructure efficiency

The need for redevelopment can be recognised through several criteria. These can be divided into two groups: characteristics of individual buildings, and characteristics of localities (which may arise from the cumulative effect of the former). Criteria relevant to individual buildings are: under-utilisation of the site, poor condition of the building structure, inadequate standard of building design. These problems can be resolved by replacing the individual buildings. Criteria relevant to localities are: exposure to noise and air pollution, lack of local space, and inadequate local street network. These problems require the restructuring of wider areas as well as the replacement of inadequate buildings. Various aspects of the need for redevelopment are discussed briefly below:

Economic efficiency

Where a site is currently developed for a less valuable use or to an intensity less than that which would be legally permissible, it may be in the interests of the economical use of land to encourage redevelopment. The use of under-utilised Government sites for more intensive development, for example for housing, could be justified in this way.

Building condition

The relevant aspect of building condition is whether the building structure is dangerous or very likely to become so. If a building is structurally sound but in a poor state of repair, the problem could perhaps be solved by better maintenance. The URS Study estimated that in the year 2000 there were some 13,900 buildings over 20 years old (24% private residential, 62% commercial/residential, 8% commercial and 7% industrial). Of these, those in tolerable/fair condition (7000 buildings) or in deteriorating/poor condition (2,300 buildings) are considered in need of treatment. 

Building design standard

At any time, the building stock comprises a mix of buildings built according to the standards required at different periods. The main features of the current Building (Planning) Regulations were enforced from 1967 onwards. They marked a substantial advance on the previous regulations, in terms of building design. Many pre-1967 buildings must therefore be considered inadequate by modern standards of design and construction and, furthermore, are unsuitable for conversion to a modern standard. Figure 19.2 shows broad areas in need of urban renewal action, based on the distribution of street blocks in R(A) and C/R zones which contain pre-1967 buildings.

Figure 19.2 Potential Areas for Urban Renewal
Figure 19.2 Potential areas for urban renewal
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Environmental conditions

A building may be inappropriately located for its purpose because of exposure to sources of noise or air pollution. Such problems may arise because of an interface between residential buildings and incompatible activities or because of non-conforming uses within a building. Two main cases of interface arise: industrial/residential and transport/residential.

Encouraging redevelopment of the building creating or suffering the nuisance may be a means of dealing with industrial/residential interface problems, and this may be encouraged by rezoning industrial sites to non-offensive business uses or by rezoning isolated industrial sites to residential use. Similarly, the impact of traffic noise and air pollution may be reduced by redeveloping the affected building to a non-sensitive use or imposing stringent design criteria on the replacement building.

Inadequate open space and community facility provision

These shortcomings arise through overbuilding on each site and over an area as a whole. Significant improvements can only be achieved by stimulating redevelopment on a sufficient scale to allow for the insertion of additional open space, i.e. on a comprehensive basis.

Traffic problems

The street pattern in many older parts of the urban areas is inadequate for the demands made upon it by present day levels of traffic. The road hierarchy is often poorly defined, with through traffic forced to pass through local areas rather than along higher order distributor roads. Redesigning the road pattern is an essential part of restructuring districts and inevitably often involves demolition and redevelopment of buildings.

Constraints on comprehensive redevelopment

Although redevelopment viability depends on the ratio of prospective to existing floorspace value, a number of factors can further restrict the feasibility of redevelopment. The most significant of these is the difficulty of acquiring properties in multiple ownership. Other factors, such as the need to compensate tenants and the costs of land premiums, add marginally to direct costs but more significantly through their impact on the time taken to bring about redevelopment.

With major exceptions where private developers have been able to acquire substantial sites, usually previously non-residential, redevelopment takes place generally in a piecemeal, unstructured fashion. The pattern of new building that results comprises a scatter of high-rise blocks on small sites, interspersed among frontages of older buildings.

As a means of achieving the overall objectives of urban renewal, this uncoordinated process has two severe shortcomings. First, redevelopment does not necessarily deal with the worst buildings and many substandard buildings in poor condition remain untouched. Secondly, opportunities to assemble large sites within which significant improvements to land use arrangements might be effected are missed as the difficult and slow site assembly process discourages developers from attempting to assemble large sites. Many of the problems of the older residential areas arise from the sites not being large enough to accommodate parking and loading facilities, usable open space around the building or at podium level, or an attractive and environmentally acceptable relationship between buildings.

Urban Renewal Strategy

Government has powers to bring about redevelopment by adjusting the ground rules for permitted development to improve viability, by resuming land in multiple ownership, by providing rehousing opportunities, and by using explicit or implicit subsidies. The Urban Renewal Authority, set up in 2001 to replace the former Land Development Corporation, is the main agency for government-instigated redevelopment of private housing, with Housing Authority and Housing Society continuing to be responsible for redevelopment of public housing.

Planning Department's Urban Renewal Strategy Study has identified projects to be implemented by the Urban Renewal Authority. It is expected that the Authority will be able to implement over 100 projects in the next 15 years. The scale of intervention planned is summarised in Table 19.3. The Urban Renewal Strategy is expected to have a significant impact on the inadequate residential building stock in Metro, particularly in Kowloon, where the worst conditions are found. A further indication of the scale and distribution of potential URA activity is given in Figure 19.3, which shows outstanding and programmed LDC schemes which have been taken over by the URA together with streetblocks containing sites proposed in the URS Study for URA action by 2016.

Table 19.3 Proposed contents of Urban Renewal Strategy to 2016
[Source: Planning Department]
Location No. of Schemes Total Site Area (ha) Existing Flats New Flats Net Change in Flats
Kowloon 101 31.4 18561 41544 22983
Hong Kong 29 3.3 1880 4760 2880
Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing 0 0 0 0 0
Total 130 34.7 20441 46304 25863

Figure 19.3 Main concentrations of URA schemes for action by 2016
Figure 19.3 Main concentrations of URA schemes for action by 2016
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Assisted urban renewal schemes are undertaken for social reasons but because of resource limitations considerations of cost and financial viability are important in selecting schemes. As a result, some of the buildings in most need of renewal are excluded. In particular, there are many buildings constructed in the 1950s and '60s which do not meet modern standards of safety and design and which were built to plot ratios higher than those accepted by current legislation. The amount of GFA makes acquisition expensive, the large number of units generates a massive rehousing requirement, and the scale of multiple ownership makes acquisition problematic. Furthermore, the financial viability of redevelopment is undermined by the lower plot ratios permissible on redevelopment. Current urban renewal policies do not deal with these buildings but a solution will eventually need to be found as their condition deteriorates further. The general distribution of residential buildings of this type in Kowloon and Hong Kong Island (only one qualifying streetblock exists in Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing) is indicated in Figure 19.4, which shows streetblocks containing pre-1968 R(A) buildings with domestic PR greater than 8 and at least 100 flats.

Figure 19.4 Streetblocks containing pre-1967 buildings with domestic PR>8 and >100 flats, in 1999
Figure 19.4 Streetblocks containing pre-1967 buildings with domestic PR>8 and >100 flats, in 1999
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Current policies on assisted urban renewal relate almost exclusively to the redevelopment of residential areas. The need for urban renewal of older industrial areas is well recognised but residential redevelopment is given priority on the basis that it can make a more immediate contribution to meeting social needs and improving the quality of life. It is expected that this prioritisation will apply over most of the time horizon of the present Metroplan Review.

Public housing redevelopment

Housing Authority has been redeveloping its older public rental estates since the 1980s as part of the Comprehensive Redevelopment Programme (CRP). The current CRP is due to be completed by 2005 and no decision has been made to extend it. However, there remain older public housing estates which might benefit from redevelopment. Figure 19.5 shows the distribution of public housing estates (including those of Housing Society) and indicates the date of construction of those which are not covered by the CRP.

Figure 19.5(a) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Kowloon
Figure 19.5(a) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Kowloon
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Figure 19.5(b) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Hong Kong Island West
Figure 19.5(b) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Hong Kong Island West
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Figure 19.5(c) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Hong Kong Island East
Figure 19.5(c) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Hong Kong Island East
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Figure 19.5(d) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing
Figure 19.5(d) Public Housing Estates by Date of Construction: Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing
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More recently, Housing Authority has been examining the potential for incorporating the redevelopment of some groups of older estates within comprehensive schemes which could include adjacent and nearby sites in other ownership. The aim would be to use Housing Authority's redevelopment as a catalyst to bring about the restructuring of wider districts in need of renewal. The four study areas (whose locations are shown in Figure 19.6) are:

Figure 19.6 Housing Department study areas for Urban Restructuring Schemes
Figure 19.6 Housing Department study areas for Urban Restructuring Schemes
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19.3 Plot ratio relaxation

Development densities for different types and categories of land use in Metro are closely controlled in terms of plot ratio. Schedule 1 of the Building (Planning) Regulations. (B(P)R) sets out the statutory maximum plot ratios for domestic and non-domestic buildings but in many areas further statutory restrictions are applied through the Notes of Outline Zoning Plans. Elsewhere further administrative restrictions on plot ratio are applied through the land administration system. These include the controls covering Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing and those within Special Control Areas in Hong Kong Island and Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing.

Where plot ratios are currently applied at levels below those specified in the B(P)R the opportunity exists to relax them and create additional development potential. Whether this additional development potential will be realised on a site depends on the whether the increase in plot ratio is sufficient to make redevelopment viable and whether there are other obstacles to development, such as ownership constraints. If additional development does take place this will normally lead to increases in population and/or employment. Plot ratio relaxation is thus a potential tool both for bringing about urban renewal and for altering the quantity and distribution of population and employment in Metro.

The main potential opportunities for plot ratio relaxation are the following:

  1. R(A), C and I zones in Kowloon, where plot ratios are restricted to below B(P)R levels to PR7.5 maximum for R(A) and PR12 for C and I, by Notes to the OZP
  1. R(A), C and I zones in Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing, where plot ratios are restricted to below B(P)R levels (PR5 for R(A) and PR 9.5 for C and I zones), by administrative means
  1. Lower density residential zones (R2 and R3) throughout Metro
  1. Special Control areas throughout Metro; the rationale for SCA controls was reviewed in the Comprehensive Review of Special Control Areas which reported in 1993. The controls are imposed in the main either for urban design/landscape or special local reasons or due to limited local road access. It was beyond the scope of the Metroplan Review to undertake a further review of these issues.


The possibility of relaxing plot ratios in Kowloon has been thoroughly studied in the KDS Review, the full findings of which are set out in Part II of this report. The main conclusions of the KDS Review were as follows:

  1. This is not the appropriate time to recommend a general relaxation of plot ratios in Kowloon.
  1. The existing two-tier plot ratio system for Residential (A) zoning should be discontinued and all sites should be subject to the present upper tier plot ratio limit of PR 7.5 for domestic use and PR 9.0 for non-domestic. This has already been incorporated in the proposed amendments to the Notes of some OZPs to discontinue the two tier system. The remaining OZPs are proposed to be gazetted later.
  1. There may be scope for selective relaxation of plot ratios in large-scale urban restructuring schemes in western parts of Kowloon provided that the sewage treatment facilities, pumping stations and the sewerage network would be upgraded accordingly.

Hong Kong Island

In strategic terms, additional population on Hong Kong Island could help to improve the imbalance of jobs and population between Hong Kong and the remainder of the SAR. However, opportunities to achieve this through plot ratio relaxation are extremely limited as residential plot ratios in almost all R(A) and C/R zones on the island are already at B(P)R maximum levels. Indeed, parts of the lower plot ratio R(B) zones, particularly in western mid-levels, may be considered overdeveloped in terms of living environment and local transport infrastructure capacity.

Tsuen Wan

As mentioned above, domestic plot ratios in R(A) zones in Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing are restricted to PR5, well below B(P)R levels, by administrative means. In order to assess the additional population and jobs that might be generated through relaxing plot ratios, the DEVIN Model was rerun for R(A), C/R and I zones, assuming domestic plot ratio of PR8 and non-domestic plot ratio of PR12. This generated an additional population of 102,000, 18,000 additional office jobs (in both C/R and I zones) and a reduction of 2,000 industrial jobs.

The transport assessment in Chapter 18 found that there are significant highway capacity limitations in Tsuen Wan and that further population increase here should be avoided. A further test incorporating the additional development arising from the degree of plot ratio relaxation described above found that in some areas the problems would become worse.

If the levels of plot ratio relaxation examined here had been applied to the residential and commercial zones in the old Town Centre area of Tsuen Wan only, according to the DEVIN Model they would have generated an additional population of around 10,500 and a net addition of some 300 jobs through unassisted private sector redevelopment. However, with URA assisted redevelopment, sites currently not feasible for redevelopment by the private sector could be redeveloped, giving considerably higher potential increases in population.


19.4 Rezoning opportunities

Rezoning land from its current OZP zoning to another higher value use (up-zoning) can offer significant opportunities for change in land use as well as redevelopment of obsolete buildings. Down-zoning may also be an appropriate planning measure to prevent redevelopment or intensification of uses that may be expected to have detrimental impacts or to reserve land for essential non-profitable uses such as open space and community facilities. Small scale rezoning occurs continually on a routine basis, either at the instigation of individual land holders or of Planning Department. However, more wide-ranging, strategic rezoning exercises may be desirable to reflect changes in the demand for different types of property in the market, to bring about desirable changes in the distribution of supply or to improve land use arrangements.

The following types of strategic rezoning represent important opportunities to meet Metroplan objectives:

  1. Rezoning of Industrial sites to:
  1. Rezoning of Commercial/Residential sites to
  1. Rezoning of G/IC sites to other uses

Opportunities for such land use change may be created by extensions to transport infrastructure, particularly the construction of new rail lines and stations, which generate locational advantages for previously less accessible areas. Areas set to benefit from the provision of new rail lines include:

Areas set to benefit from improved connectivity in the rail system include:

Rezoning of Industrial zones

At the commencement of the Metroplan Review, some 350 ha were zoned for Industrial use in Metro. However, Planning Department's "Area Assessment of Existing Industrial Land in the Territory" recommended the rezoning of 43% (150 ha) of Metro's zoned industrial land to Business Use and 9% (33 ha) to a variety of other uses. The remaining 48% (168 ha) of existing industrial zones were proposed to be retained for industrial use. Most of these rezonings are now incorporated in OZPs.

Rezoning of Commercial/Residential zones

Commercial and Residential zones are mutually exclusive in terms of their main specified uses (under Column 1 of the OZP Notes), i.e. residential uses are not permitted as of right in Commercial zones and similarly for offices in Residential zones. In areas zoned Commercial/Residential (C/R), however, the developer can choose whether to build a residential or an office building (either of which would usually have a retail podium) or a combination of the two. The case for giving the developer this choice is that, given the typical pattern of substantial swings in market demand, it is not possible for him to foresee whether office or residential buildings will be more profitable on a particular site at the time when he may wish to develop. The flexibility embodied in the C/R zoning is thus clearly beneficial to developers and owners of land within the zone.

The C/R zoning also allows as of right the development of certain building types which would require approval by the Town Planning Board under Column 2 of the OZP Notes if they were to be proposed in other types of zone. The zoning permits composite buildings which, as well as residential floorspace, contain other uses such as retail, office and restaurants on any floor. In Residential (A) zones, such uses are confined to the lowest three floors, normally in the form of a podium, while in Commercial zones, residential uses are not permitted as of right.

Disadvantages of C/R zoning

Allowing the developer to choose whether to develop office or residential uses has significant consequences for the planning of infrastructure and for the pattern of land use.

(a) Uncertainty for infrastructure planning

Where there is limited capacity in infrastructure, the choice of land use, even between uses which may be compatible neighbours, is a planning issue. Offices tend to generate more road traffic per m2 of floorspace than residential development. Furthermore, with permitted office plot ratios generally significantly higher than those for residential development, the traffic impact of office development is even greater. As an example, typical morning peak hour trip generation rates for residential uses are 0.015 trips per person, while equivalent attraction rates for office uses are 0.042 trips per person. Assuming Hong Kong Island parameters of flat size 60m2, persons per flat 2.3 and domestic plot ratio 8, 100m2 of fully developed residential net site area would generate about 0.5 peak hour trips. Assuming 25m2 of GFA per office employee and an office plot ratio of 15, 100m2 of office net site area would attract about 2.5 trips, or five times as many and in the opposite direction. In practice this ratio may be at the high end of a range, as smaller office developments in C/R zones may have limited parking and thus attract lower than average trips. Nevertheless, office use will create significantly more trips than residential.

Given the uncertainty as to the type of development that will take place in C/R zones, these variations in impact between residential and office buildings make it difficult to plan an efficient provision of infrastructure. This is a particularly important issue, given that Hong Kong Island has 21% of the SAR's population and 31% its jobs. The transport analyses indicated that the job/population imbalance between Hong Kong Island, Kowloon and New Territories needs to be improved, to reduce traffic levels and improve efficiency of transport infrastructure. There are currently approximately 154 ha of land with C/R zoning in Hong Kong Island. If employment growth is to be contained on Hong Kong Island, this reservoir of potential office development needs to be reduced. By rezoning some parts to Residential (A) their potential use for offices could be reduced and the likelihood of their re-use for residential purposes could be increased.

In Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing, 78 ha of land are currently zoned C/R. It would be desirable to rezone some of this land to Commercial zoning in order to increase the likelihood of re-use for office development and help redress the job and population imbalance in Metro.

(b) Land use arrangement

The long term land use within C/R zones is determined by short term variations in demand for different property types. As a result, in some areas of C/R zone, isolated residential buildings stand within an office environment, e.g. Tsim Sha Tsui East and Wanchai North. Elsewhere, as in parts of Wan Chai, offices and residential blocks are interspersed with each other. Although these arrangements may not lead to direct environmental interface problems, as in the case of industrial and residential buildings, they have disadvantages, in particular the following:

Potential Mixed Use zoning

Mixed uses promote a lively ambience in and around major commercial districts. The main urban zonings of Commercial, Residential (A), CDA and Commercial/Residential generate a high degree of both horizontal and vertical mixing of uses. However, C/R zoning is not the best tool for achieving mixed development and its extreme flexibility has the drawbacks discussed above. It is nevertheless desirable to maintain flexibility in planning to allow a mix of office, commercial, residential and other compatible uses, but in a systematic manner and at suitable locations.

A more positive new OU (Mixed Use) zone has therefore been suggested to convey the clear planning intention of encouraging mixed use development while eliminating most of the problems of C/R zoning, through physical segregation of domestic and non-domestic uses within a building. This would aim to provide maximum flexibility for the development of domestic or other uses or a combination of various types of compatible uses, either horizontally or vertically, to create vitality, encourage diversity of uses, and allow greater flexibility in land uses to meet changing market needs. It would allow developers to avoid the rigidity of the R(A) zone which generates a maximum of 3 non-domestic storeys beneath pencil-like residential towers. The issue of how best to achieve mixed use in the Hong Kong context is discussed further in Appendix F in Volume 2. Should the new concept be adopted it should be accompanied with clear guidelines to direct the mix of uses in a particular vertical mix.


The C/R zone was abandoned in Kowloon under the original KDS in the interests of more effective infrastructure planning and use and better land use arrangements. There is a strong case for extending this approach to the C/R zones in Hong Kong Island and Tsuen Wan/Kwai Tsing. Those parts of the existing C/R zone which are most suitable for office use would be rezoned to C, those most suitable for housing to R(A) and those most suitable for maintaining mix of uses to an OU (Mixed Use) zoning.

Rezoning from other zones

The other main opportunities for rezoning are offered by G/IC and OU zones, as these are more likely than other zones to contain uses which may become redundant over time. G/IC zones comprise both public and private sites intended to accommodate facilities of benefit to the community. As these are often non-profitable or of limited profitability, owners usually stand to gain substantial value from up-zoning.

Government is continually seeking opportunities to make more profitable use of its land holdings and many "under-utilised" government sites have been proposed for residential use in recent years to meet housing targets. Care needs to be taken, however, to ensure that sites which might be used to reduce shortfalls in essential community facilities are not lost in this way, as opportunities to insert new facilities in the existing dense urban fabric are extremely limited.

Nearly all the G/IC sites referred to above are small in area. Most major redundant government sites have already been redeveloped or planned for redevelopment. Examples are the previous military sites in Kowloon agreed in 1994 by the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group to be released for development: the British Military Hospital, Yau Ma Tei East, Blackdown Barracks, San Po Kong, and Kowloon Tsai Married Quarters, Kowloon Tong. Sites offering a similar scale of opportunity today are those of the prisons at Central, Lai Chi Kok and Stanley, which have been under consideration by government for reprovisioning outside the main urban area. The Stanley Prison site might, for example, be suitable for high quality residential development. Existing service reservoirs or sites reserved for future reservoirs have recently been considered for alternative uses but the difficulties of identifying replacement sites and re-organising the supply network are considerable.


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