HK$1 lease scheme for community land flops

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 January, 2011, 12:00am

A scheme to lease 1,000 pieces of government land to non-governmental organisations for community purposes received a lukewarm response.

Since the project was launched in 2008, the government has received only about 100 applications, while 69 have been approved.

District councillors say a lack of transparency in the scheme and restrictions attached to the lease make the scheme unattractive.

The government introduced the scheme three years ago, planning to lease the vacant land to NGOs for temporary use and beautification at a symbolic rent of HK$1.

About 1,000 sites were included, ranging in size from about 100 square metres near the Mid-Levels escalator to 28,000 square metres in Diamond Hill. They are all sites deemed unsuitable for sale or not required for use in the short term.

A government spokesman said the 69 sites leased so far had been used for community gardens, exhibitions or cycling parks.

Wong Tai Sin district councillor Lau Chi-wang, who helped one organisation to rent a site, said one drawback was that the NGOs needed to pay a land inspection or maintenance fee of more than HK$100,000 before they could use the land.

'It would not be worth spending that amount of money because the lease will only last for a short term,' Lau said.

He also said the list of sites had never been published and the information could only be obtained from the offices of the Lands Department and Home Affairs Department on request.

A spokesman for the Development Bureau said details had not been uploaded online.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, a member of Central and Western District Council, said the government should review the effectiveness of the scheme.

She suggested it should weed out sites that were not suitable for such schemes and make all the details public.

It should also take the initiative to build parks on the sites itself rather than relying on the NGOs, Chan said.