Urban planning

Easier site-coverage rules will promote innovative designs

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 29 March, 2000, 12:00am


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The relaxation of site-coverage controls on residential buildings is expected to promote more innovative and environmentally friendly designs in Hong Kong.

The Town Planning Board announced the adjustment in controls on Friday. It affects low to medium-density residential sites in Residential (Group B) and Residential (Group C) zones throughout the territory.

The planning board said the changes would not affect the restrictions on plot ratio and building height.

Site-coverage measures the ratio of the site area occupied by buildings to the total site area.

Michael Chan, spokesman for the Town Planning Board, said before the relaxation, site-coverage control had been governed by a more complex system.

Under the old system, coverage restrictions were different if the building heights were different.

For medium-density developments, a three-storey building had a maximum site coverage of 66.6 per cent. A 10-storey building could only have coverage of 33 per cent, he said.

Under the new regulations, all buildings in urban developments would be allowed coverage of 66.6 per cent regardless of height.

New town developments could enjoy 50 per cent coverage and rural developments 40 per cent.

Under the old system, a two-storey building at a low-density development would have been assigned a site coverage of 30 per cent. Only 20 per cent coverage would have been possible for a five-storey building, Mr Chan said.

He said such buildings could now enjoy 50 per cent coverage regardless of building heights if they were located in metro areas.

New town sites would be allowed coverage of 40 per cent.

Maximum site-coverage for all residential sites within rural areas was now 40 per cent.

There were no specific restrictions for rural sites under the old system.

Furthermore, no site-coverage restriction would be imposed for areas where the maximum domestic plot ratio was less than 0.4.

'The main purpose is to provide flexibility to cater for site constraints and innovative design,' said Mr Chan.

John Hui, first vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Real Estate Administration and an architect, said the relaxation would provide a lot of help in designing buildings.

The new system would make various kinds of design possible, he said.

For example, developers could build more bay windows, whose area had to be calculated into site-coverage.

Even houses that resembled the Lippo Centre were now possible and buildings need not be pencil-like, said Mr Hui.

Environmentally friendly features could also be included.

Developers could, for example, build a larger architectural feature for sun-shading on the southwest side of a building but smaller features on the other sides.

The Buildings Department was also considering granting exemptions to exclude some utility service areas from calculation into the gross floor area. Relaxed site-coverage control would help achieve this, he said.

If the duct areas were exempted, for example, a bigger floor plan which could accommodate the duct spaces while maintaining a high efficiency for the building would be preferred, Mr Hui said.