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Town Planning

Purpose of Town Planning: Town Planning aims at shaping a quality living and working environment, facilitating economic development and, promoting the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the community by guiding and controlling development and the use of land. Based on the principle of sustainable development, town planning seeks to bring about an organised, efficient and desirable place for the community to live and work in. Given the limited land resources in Hong Kong, there is a need to strike a balance in land utilisation to meet the competing demands for housing, commerce, industry, transport, recreation, nature conservation, heritage preservation and other community needs.

Planning Organisations: The Planning and Lands Branch of the Development Bureau is in charge of the policy portfolios of planning, land use, buildings and urban renewal in Hong Kong. Taking directives from the Development Bureau, the Planning Department (PlanD) is responsible for formulating, monitoring and reviewing land use at the territorial and district/local level. It also carries out topical studies and undertakes actions against unauthorised land uses.

The principal body responsible for statutory planning in Hong Kong is the Town Planning Board (TPB). It is formed under the Town Planning Ordinance (TPO) and served by the PlanD. Comprising predominantly non-official members, the TPB oversees the preparation of draft statutory plans, considers representations to such draft plans and considers applications for planning permission and amendments to plans. There are two standing committees under the TPB, namely, the Metro Planning Committee and the Rural and New Town Planning Committee. Under the TPO, the TPB may also appoint a committee among its members to consider representations to draft statutory plans.

Planning System: Hong Kong’s planning system comprises development strategies at the territorial level and various types of statutory and departmental plans at the district/local level. Guiding the preparation of these plans is the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, relevant development related policy and principles and community views.

Territorial Development Strategy: The strategy aims at providing a broad planning framework to guide future development and the provision of strategic infrastructure in Hong Kong. It also serves as a basis for the preparation of district plans. The last review, “Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy” (“Hong Kong 2030”), was promulgated in 2007. It sets out a spatial planning framework for the future development of Hong Kong and broad directions for land supply and town planning for a time horizon up to 2030. The Government is currently updating “Hong Kong 2030” under “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030” (“Hong Kong 2030+”), which looks beyond 2030. It will build upon the foundations of “Hong Kong 2030” in updating the territorial development strategy, viz. under the vision of strengthening Hong Kong’s position as Asia’s world city. The Government will adopt a proactive, pragmatic and action-oriented approach to draw up a robust development strategy for the future sustainable development of Hong Kong.

With increasing economic integration and social interaction between Hong Kong and the Mainland, cross-boundary surveys are commissioned regularly to collect statistical information on various aspects of cross-boundary activities, e.g. travel pattern and behavior, Hong Kong residents’ experience of and aspirations for taking up residence in the Mainland. The survey findings provide valuable input for the planning of cross-boundary infrastructure and formulation of development strategies. Other studies to examine the wider regional context of the Greater Pearl River Delta have also been conducted.

Statutory Plans: Two types of statutory plans are prepared and published by the TPB under the provisions of the TPO. In 2004, the TPO was amended to streamline the plan-making process and planning approval procedures, enhance the openness and transparency of the planning system as well as strengthen planning enforcement in the rural New Territories. The amended TPO took effect in 2005.

The first type is Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) which shows the land use zones, development parameters and major road systems of an individual planning area. Areas covered by OZPs are in general zoned for uses such as residential, commercial, industrial, green belt, open space, government/institution/community uses or other specified purposes. Attached to each OZP is a Schedule of Notes showing the uses which are always permitted (Column 1 uses) in a particular zone and other uses for which prior permission from the TPB must be sought (Column 2 uses).

The second type is Development Permission Area (DPA) Plan. DPA Plans are prepared to provide interim planning control, and development guidance for rural areas in the New Territories until more detailed OZPs are prepared. DPA Plans indicate broad land use zones and are also accompanied by Schedules of Notes showing Column 1 and 2 uses. DPA Plans are effective for a period of three years and will be replaced by OZPs.

Information on statutory plans, planning applications, related guidelines and procedures as well as the agenda and decisions of the open meetings of the TPB and its Committees can be accessed online from the TPB website at and the Statutory Planning Portal 2 at The public may also observe those open meetings in the Public Viewing Room located at 1/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong.

Departmental Plans: Outline Development Plans (ODP) and Layout Plans are administrative plans prepared within the framework of the statutory plans. With a much larger scale, these departmental plans show more detailed level planning parameters e.g. site boundaries, location of access points and footbridges, specific types of government or community uses to facilitate the coordination of public works, land sales and land reservation for specific uses.

Views from the public are essential considerations for the formulation of development strategies and preparation of plans. Public engagement in the form of public forums, workshops, exhibitions, etc. has become a very important component of the planning process.

Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines: It is a reference manual setting out the criteria for determining the scale, location and site requirements of various land uses and facilities. It is used in the preparation of town plans and planning briefs and is a tool that helps to regulate development.

Urban Renewal and Regeneration: The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is a statutory body established in 2001 to speed up the renewal of old urban areas and to execute the Urban Renewal Strategy formulated by the Government. The PlanD co-ordinates with the URA under the statutory provisions in the planning of urban renewal and regeneration projects for the improvement of the old urban areas.

In February 2011, Government promulgated the new Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) which adopts a “people first, district-based, public participatory” approach. It provides a Government strategy for urban renewal in Hong Kong.

The first pilot District Urban Renewal Forum (DURF), an advisory platform with secretariat and professional support provided by PlanD, was established in the Kowloon City District in June 2011 with a term of three years ended in May 2014. After conducting the planning study, social impact assessment and 2 stages of public engagement, the Kowloon City DURF formulated the Urban Renewal Plan for Kowloon City (URP) which was submitted to the Government for consideration in January 2014. The URP would be implemented with regard to the actual local situation and serves as a reference for the public and other organisations which might participate in the implementation of the URP.

New Town and New Development Areas: Large-scale new town development in the New Territories began in the early 1970s. The PlanD’s District Planning Offices have worked closely with the Civil Engineering and Development Department’s Development Offices to prepare plans and oversee the development of these new towns. At present, there are nine new towns, namely, Tsuen Wan, Sha Tin, Tuen Mun, Tai Po, Yuen Long, Fanling/Sheung Shui, Tseung Kwan O, Tin Shui Wai and Tung Chung. New Development Areas (NDAs) in Kwu Tung North, Fanling North, Tung Chung East and West, Hung Shui Kiu and Yuen Long South are in various stages of development and will constitute a new wave of smart and livable new town development.

Planning Enforcement: The TPO provides the Planning Authority with enforcement power against unauthorised developments (UDs) in areas covered by the DPA Plans or the replacement OZPs. Within these areas, all developments are unauthorised unless the development is either in existence before the gazettal of the DPA Plan, permitted under the relevant statutory plan or covered by valid planning permission.

The PlanD’s Central Enforcement and Prosecution Section is responsible for undertaking enforcement and prosecution actions against UDs. The Section investigates public complaints and referrals from other Government departments, and carries out regular patrols to identify possible UDs. Once a UD is confirmed, statutory enforcement and prosecution actions will be taken as appropriate.

Topical Studies: PlanD also carries out a wide range of topical studies. A number of studies focusing on improving the quality of the living environment and local area improvements, particularly for the older urban cores and the harbourfront have been carried out.

Significant studies completed include the Study on Planning for Pedestrians, the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront, and the feasibility study on Urban Climatic Map and Standards for Wind Environment. The Urban Design Study for the Wan Chai North and North Point Harbourfront Areas is currently in progress.

There are also a number of on-going or recently completed studies mainly aiming at examining the development potential of particular locations such as Hung Shui Kiu, Yuen Long South, Ex-Lamma Quarry Area, Tung Chung New Town Extension, Topside Development at Hong Kong Boundary Crossing Facilities Island of Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge, Queensway Plaza at Admiralty and the Government sites at Sai Yee Street and Mong Kok East Station.

The studies on the future use of some quarry sites such as the Planning Study on Future Land Use at Anderson Road Quarry, the Planning Review on Development of Ex-Cha Kwo Ling Kaolin Mine Site and the Planning and Engineering Study on Future Land Use at Ex-Lamma Quarry Area at Sok Kwu Wan, Lamma Island have commenced in early 2011, mid-2011 and early 2012 respectively. The main objective of the studies is to examine the future land uses and explore the potential for residential and other uses including provision of community facilities to meet the district needs. The first two studies were completed in early 2014 and the remaining one on the Ex-Lamma Quarry is scheduled for completion in 2016. The Preliminary Land Use Study for Lam Tei Quarry and the Adjoining Areas, which aim at exploring the potential land uses to meet the district needs, shall commence in mid 2016.

The Planning and Engineering Study for Tuen Mun Areas 40 and 46 and the Adjoining Areas commenced in May 2013. The overall objectives of the study are to examine the future land uses with a view to optimizing the land resources and recommending appropriate land uses and development parameters for the areas. The study is scheduled for completion in 2017.

Planning Information: The City Gallery, located at 3 Edinburgh Place, Central, Hong Kong, showcases unique achievements and visions for Hong Kong’s planning and infrastructure projects. City Gallery also plays an active role as a platform for exchanging professional ideas and education purpose. For more information on town planning and the City Gallery, please visit the PlanD and City Gallery’s website at and or visit the two Planning Enquiry Counters located at:

- 17/F, North Point Government Offices,
333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong
- 14/F, Sha Tin Government Offices,
1 Sheung Wo Che Road, Sha Tin, New Territories

For enquiries, please call 2231 5000, fax to 2877 0389 or e-mail to


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Last revision date : 29 September 2016