SMALLER developers will have more chance to bid for Crown land under recommendations aimed at introducing greater competition at auctions. By dividing a large piece of land into smaller lots, bidding will no longer be dominated by major developers, according to the Government-commissioned taskforce set up to review land auction arrangements. The three-member panel released its final report yesterday after a four-month study. The review was prompted after a dozen developers joined hands to force down prices at an auction in May. The panel suggested selling more Crown land through sealed tenders - as revealed last month by the South China Morning Post - and said public auctions should remain the 'mainstream'. It also suggested that the Government avoids holding auctions when prices are being affected by unfavourable factors, such as the imminent announcement of anti-property speculation measures. The panel said measures announced in the interim report - including limiting movement of bidders in the auction hall and greater powers for the auctioneer - should continue. The Executive Council has endorsed the recommendations, which were yesterday welcomed by the Government. Panel member Nicholas Brooke, who is also a chartered surveyor, said: 'The panel recognises that large lots allow overall planning flexibility. But the cost of developing a large lot is high and may be out of the reach of small developers. 'As a result, competition may be limited.' 'We believe that large lots should be broken up into smaller ones if overall planning is not adversely affected.' But the end-user of the site - home-buyers - might not necessarily benefit from the move, some property agents warned last night. Hong Kong Real Estate Agencies Association chairman Stephen Ng Kam-chun said dividing up a plot could result in developments that were not co-ordinated. 'Selling a large lot to a single developer can allow it to do overall planning and thus enable a better environment for the future property. 'It can also lead to higher values of the properties as well because of this,' he said. Wai Siu-yu, general secretary of the Hong Kong Real Estate Developers Association, warned that breaking up the land could result in delays in the development of the site. 'A single developer can make plans on his own. But if the land is chopped into small parts and sold at different times, the development will unavoidably be interrupted.' But Mr Wai said the measure was largely in line with the proposal the association put forward to the panel earlier and agreed that smaller developers could benefit. Mr Brooke said: 'The success of an auction depends on the process of active bidding among a number of competitors and it is therefore unsuitable for sites where the number of participants expected is small. 'It is also unsuitable for sites where criteria other than price, such as design or special requirements, are important in developing the lot.'