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URA: Demand-led redevelopment model

The Board of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Tuesday) approved the framework for a "demand-led" redevelopment model, one of the major initiatives of the new Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) promulgated by the Government in February 2011 to encourage redevelopment to take more diverse forms in Hong Kong. This is in addition to the new facilitator role announced by the URA last month.

Outlining the details of the demand-led redevelopment model at a media briefing this afternoon, the Chairman of the URA, Mr Barry Cheung, said it is intended to let owners decide if they want the URA to redevelop their properties, consistent with the people-oriented and bottom-up approach spelt out in the new URS.

Careful consideration has been given to the arrangements of the new model by the URA Board which agreed that one to two demand-led Development Projects should be tried out as a pilot scheme by the URA.

Mr Cheung said as the demand-led redevelopment model is a new initiative, the URA will refine and enhance its implementation framework after gaining practical experience from the pilot demand-led projects so as to better meet the needs of property owners.

Noting that there must be consistency between the URA's self-initiated projects and the demand-led model in terms of property acquisition and compensation, Mr Cheung outlined the proposed six project selection criteria for demand-led projects as follows:

  • Owners of 67% (i.e. 2/3) or more of the undivided shares of the respective lots of a site should jointly submit an application to the URA to initiate a demand-led project;
  • Proposed project is situated within redevelopment zones identified by District Urban Renewal Forum (DURF), or at least outside DURF's proposed preservation areas if there is DURF in that district;
  • Buildings in the application site are identified as "poor or varied";
  • Proposed project size is preferably larger than 400m2 in terms of site area to allow opportunities for achieving planning gains such as better design and layout, and provision for open space and needed public facilities, greening, etc;
  • Site should not comprise buildings/structures of historical, architectural or cultural significance as recognised by DURF and/or the Antiquities and Monuments Office unless they can be preserved and integrated with the future new buildings; and
  • There are available resources of the Authority to take on the project within a reasonably short period of time.

The URA will consider and decide whether to accept the applications for demand-led projects based on the above criteria at a time to tie in with the preparation of its annual business plan, according to the Managing Director of the URA, Mr Quinn Law.  And the successful ones will be included in its annual business plan for submission to the Financial Secretary for approval.

Applications for demand-led projects are open from July to end of October this year.  Consideration will be given to those successful ones for inclusion in its 2012/13 business plan of the URA and the successful applications will be informed by way of freezing surveys, said Mr Cheung.

For the unsuccessful owners, they could either consider seeking facilitation assistance from the URA or re-submitting their demand-led project applications the following year if they so wish.

Ms Iris Tam, Executive Director (Planning & Project Control), elaborated that in case no objection is received during the two-month publication period, owners will be issued conditional offers shortly after the expiry of the publication period.  Owners will have 60 days to consider whether to accept or not.

On the other hand, if there are objections to the project received during the two-month publication period, the URA will handle them in accordance with the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance (URAO) and three more months are required before it can seek approval from the Government.  Owners will be issued conditional offers within one month after submission of the Development Project to the Government for authorisation. Again, owners will have 60 days to consider URA's conditional offers.

For the second threshold, owners of 80% of the undivided shares of each lot of a site have to confirm and accept the conditional acquisition offers and to enter into agreements for sale and purchase within 60 days after the issue of the conditional acquisition offers.

The implementation of a project under the proposed demand-led redevelopment model is subject to the meeting of the second threshold and the Government's final authorisation.

If the 80% threshold is not achieved within the 60-day period, the project will become abortive.

If the 80% threshold is attained within the 60-day period and the final authorization of the Government is obtained, the demand-led project will be implemented and the URA will then complete the sale and purchase.

There could be a time lapse between the date of issue of the conditional acquisition offer and the completion date of sale and purchase due to various reasons.  If it is more than three months, the offer price will be adjusted according to a pre-determined methodology.

Should the completion of sale and purchase not take place within one year from the date of issue of the conditional acquisition offer, the project will also become abortive.