Siu Hong, Lam Tei, Residential Development

2014 - 2021:   S16, S16A, S12A, Appeal,  Judicial Review

Masterplan Ltd has been involved in providing strategic advice and submitting various planning applications for this project.  The subject Site is located at the northern periphery of Tuen Mun New Town, close to the Siu Hong MTR Station. In October 2014, a S16 planning permission was granted for a low-rise private residential development in a “Residential (Group E)” zone at the Site. When the permission was about to lapse, a S16A application for an Extension of Time (EOT) was submitted to the Town Planning Board. However, in June 2018, the EOT application was rejected by the Rural and New Town Planning Committee (RNTPC), reason being that the Government has committed to developing the Site as part of a public housing development. The Applicant was aggrieved by the decision, and a S17 Review on the EOT application was submitted and heard by the Board in September 2018. Unfortunately, the Board felt that the Government’s commitment to plan for a comprehensive public housing development was considered a material change in planning circumstances, and therefore, the proposed private residential development was not allowed to proceed and the EOT was rejected.  Subsequently, a S17B Appeal was lodged with the Town Planning Appeal Board, and was heard by the Appeal Board in 2020. In March 2021, the Appeal Board allowed the appeal and granted the Applicant an EOT.

Application s16 section

Application s16 section

Site in the Public Housing Development Layout

Site in the Public Housing Development Layout

Application s16 layout

Application s16 layout

Rezoning S12A layout

Rezoning S12A layout

Rezoning S12A section

Rezoning S12A section

The TPAB decision was based on the rationale that even though there may be an assumed material change of planning circumstances, there should be discretion in favor of the grant of the extension of time application. It was by no means certain that the Government would make an application to rezone the Application Site for the public housing project. Even if the extension of time was granted, it would not affect the Government’s plans to go ahead with the public housing project. Further, the Applicant had demonstrated sufficient efforts to implement the private housing scheme.

In parallel, given the difficulties with the EOT application and the timely approval of the Lam Tei & Yick Yuen OZP, Masterplan seized the opportunity and strategically advised on and submitted a fresh S16 Application for the same private residential development. Planning permission was successfully obtained in May 2020 and is valid until 2024. The proposed private residential scheme was similar to the one that was approved in October 2014.

With the knowledge of the Government’s on-gong Engineering Feasibility Study (EFS) for a public housing development, Masterplan had also advised and submitted a S12A rezoning application in 2020, to up-zone the Site from “Residential (Group E)” to “Residential (Group A)” zone, to increase the permissible development intensity for a more comprehensive development. The Application was rejected but the decision-making process of the RNTPC was considered biased towards the Government’s public housing development. In July 2020, an application for leave to apply for Judicial Review (JR) was submitted to the High Court.  In gist, the grounds for JR included that the RNTPC should not have considered the Government EFS as a relevant factor in decision-making; that the RNTPC failed to make sufficient inquiries to make an informed decision and failed to properly consider the technical aspects of the rezoning application. 

The JR was heard by the Court of First Instance of the High Court in June 2021, and was dismissed in a judgment handed down on 15 September, 2021. However, the Applicant has felt aggrieved by the decision in the judgement, and on 12 October 2021 appealed the Court of First Instance’s decision and the matter is now pending before the Court of Appeal. 

The “Draft Lam Tei and Yick Yuen OZP No. S/TM-LTYY/11”, containing proposed amendments was exhibited under section 5 of the Town Planning Ordinance (the Ordinance) for public inspection in early September 2021.  Masterplan Ltd advised to submit a representation to object to the amendment item to rezone the Site and surrounding land area to “R(A)” zone for high-density public housing development.  A representation was submitted to the Board in October 2021.  The representation put forward the proposal to include high-density private housing in the rezoning area of the Government’s public housing development.  It would offer a better mix of housing and was compatible in terms of scale and form of building.