Responses by URA to 2023 Policy Address
In response to the announcement made by the Chief Executive in the 2023 Policy Address today (25 October 2023) on the new initiatives to enhance the efficiency of urban renewal and building safety, a spokesperson for the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) said the URA welcomes the new initiatives and will fully support their implementation.
The URA shares the view as mentioned in the Policy Address that it is necessary to speed up redevelopment and step up maintenance of aged buildings at the same time so as to address the issue of urban decay and ageing buildings. The URA has all along emphasised the importance of building maintenance to prolong the service life of buildings, thus alleviating the pressure on redevelopment. The city then is able to optimise its resources to redevelop those buildings in dilapidated condition and at the same time, accumulate the necessary resources to sustain future urban renewal efforts.
In the coming years, the URA will commit to implementing the urban renewal recommendations suggested by its District Study for Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok. With regard to the two planning studies for Tsuen Wan and Sham Shui Po, the URA has completed baseline reviews for the two areas under study. It is expected that comprehensive urban renewal master plans and restructuring proposals will be ready by phases from the second half of 2024.
On enhancing the safety of buildings, the URA will continue to provide owners with technical and financial support to undertake building repairs. In addition, we will join hand with the Government to review the workflow of various stages of Operation Building Bright 2.0 to provide assistance to the scheme applicants to expedite the building inspection and repair works.
Maintaining good condition of their buildings is owners’ responsibility. The URA concurs with the Government in putting forth proposals to amend the Buildings Ordinance with a view to increasing the deterrent effect. These include exploring streamlining prosecution procedures and lowering the prosecution threshold, as well as raising the penalties against non-compliance with notices served under the Mandatory Building Inspection Scheme and the Mandatory Window Inspection Scheme, repair and investigation orders, unauthorised building works and other illegal building works.
The URA believes it is equally important to maintain good building management. In this regard, it supports the Government in amending the Building Management Ordinance to encourage owners’ attendance at owners’ corporation (OC) meetings and enhance the transparency and accountability of OCs. The amendments are expected to strengthen the regulation of OCs in respect of property management works for enhancing the quality of building management.
The URA also welcomes the Government to initiate a study to explore feasible policy measures to deploy part of the reclaimed land outside the Kau Yi Chau central business district to facilitate implementation of urban redevelopment projects by the URA and private sector. This initiative on providing land resources, together with the Financial Secretary’s recent approval for the URA to raise its borrowing limit from the original cap of HK$6 billion to HK$25 billion to enhance its capability to undertake sizeable redevelopment projects ahead, will provide strong supports for the long-term sustainability of urban renewal. In the long run, it will encourage participation of private sector in the regeneration of old urban districts.
With regard to the application of Building Information Modelling (BIM) to expedite the construction of new residential projects, the URA has in fact started adopting BIM in its projects since 2016. Since last year, the URA has further required its joint-venture partners to adopt BIM in the preparation of building plans for submission to authorities for approval. BIM-generated building plan submissions of various URA projects are being processed by the Buildings Department. Some of these submissions have also been approved. The URA will continue to promulgate the adoption of BIM by making it a mandatory requirement for all URA building projects.