Lobby group wants law on 'green features' if proposed limits ignored

PUBLISHED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 28 June, 2010, 12:00am

Legislation should be introduced if property developers fail to comply with the 51 recommendations made by the Council for Sustainable Development to reduce unreasonable concessions that allow them to erect bulkier buildings, the council's chief said.

'We've made so many recommendations, hence the government must make the industry follow the rules,' Bernard Chan, chairman of the government advisory body, said.

'[We] have given such an obvious message and if in the end nothing happens, I believe there will be growing public demand for legislation,' Chan said. 'Personally, I think ... if there is no improvement to our living environment, legislation will be the only option.'

On Friday the council released recommendations to restrict the ability of developers to sell so-called green features to apartment buyers as part of their flats.

Recommendations from the council include a cap on the amount of floor-area concessions developers can obtain in return for including these features in developments. It also suggests removing concessions for mail delivery rooms and lift corridors without natural ventilation and a reduction in concessions for balconies, utility platforms, clubhouses, prefabricated external walls and minor features such as kiosks, office stores, guardrooms and watchmen's toilets.

It also wants a review of whether bay windows, for which developers also receive concessions, actually improve a living environment.

Under the incentive scheme set up by the government in 2001, developers pay little or no land premiums for such features, which they then sell to buyers at market price as part of the floor areas of their flats.

Environmental groups complain the policy has resulted in overly dense developments with excessively large podiums.

The recommendations were released after a year-long public consultation.

Responding to criticism that the council failed to recommend a level at which the concessions should be capped, Chan said that was up to the government.

The report also suggested developers spell out in sales brochures all common space that flat buyers must pay for.

Currently, developers are not required to provide buyers with an exhaustive list of a building's common areas and their location.

Chan said society no longer tolerated industries whose sales processes lack transparency.

He said it was clear the public was not happy with the present arrangement and wanted change.