Development chief aims to stop rush of plans before new rules

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 17 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 17 October, 2010, 12:00am

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor is looking at administrative ways to prevent developers rushing through submissions for building plans before new measures take effect early next year that target the practice of inflating the floor area of flats.

The half-year period until April was needed to modify notes on the measures before the practice was curbed, Mrs Lam (pictured) told RTHK yesterday.

'We've chosen the quickest way to do this. If we did this by legislation, I believe it would not be passed until 2012,' she said.

Under the new measures, developers seeking free areas for their facilities would have to obtain certification from the Green Building Council, which would send experts to assess a development's environmental performance.

The measures aim to control the scale of developments by capping the amount of floor area that can be rated as 'green' features and amenities. Facilities and features such as balconies and clubhouses should not exceed 10 per cent of the total gross floor area of a development.

At present they may be exempted from calculations of the gross floor area, providing a bonanza for developers, who get the areas taken up by these facilities for free but sell them as part of the gross floor area of a flat.

Widespread abuse of this practice has inflated the scale of a development but shrunk the usable area of flats for homeowners.

Speaking on another radio programme, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the government would not implement radical housing policies because it was necessary to consider the interests of various people.

'Those who have bought properties surely don't want the housing market to tumble; those who haven't bought any would like the government to repress prices; the 'sandwich class' would like more subsidised flats; those waiting for public housing would like more land devoted to that,' he said.

'People say it's difficult to afford properties. In fact, it's also difficult to have good housing policies and to balance everyone's interests. I would rise to the challenge with everyone.'