Planners tighten up development rules on serviced apartments

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 June, 2000, 12:00am

The Government has tightened controls on serviced-apartment development to avoid abuses by developers.

The Town Planning Board yesterday announced the deletion of serviced-apartment use from all statutory plans and introduced a set of guidelines for interim planning control.

Analysts said the new policy would make it more difficult for developers to redevelop their large pool of industrial land into serviced apartments, at present a popular option for redevelopment.

With the ambiguities in government rules, developers could build more spaces in a serviced-apartment project even if the flats were intended for general residential use. The new rules plug the loophole.

According to the guidelines issued by the planning board, a 'serviced apartment' project could only be approved either as a hotel or residential development.

Previously, for some sites, land owners could build serviced-apartment projects without planning approval. Now they can only build hotels.

A board spokesman said there was a need to control residential development in the name of serviced apartments in commercial and industrial areas or areas subject to environmental constraints.

Analysts said there was a growing interest among developers wishing to build serviced apartments through redevelopment of their sites in industrial areas, especially after the Government's recent decision to allow strata-title sale of such properties. In the past, serviced flats of a property could not be sold except as a whole.

The spokesman added that the Government encountered difficulties in defining serviced apartments in enforceable legal terms.

However, 7,162 serviced apartments in various projects approved since last September can still go ahead.

The planning board yesterday also approved a revised scheme of the residential sites next to Science Park, Tai Po, by lowering the building height there. The height restriction on two sites will be lowered from 70 metres to 45 metres and 30 metres. Another site's height restriction was cut from 45 metres to 30 metres.

The move aims to create a better view along the Tolo Highway, but the residential supply there will be cut from 2,868 units to 2,319 units.