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Conceptual Option
Increasing Development Intensity of "Village Type Development" Zones

What is a "Village Type Development"?

At present, there are around 700 "Village Type Development" ("V") zones as stipulated in statutory town plans. Among them are a total of 642 recognised villages, mostly in the NT.

"V" zones, covering a total area of around 3,380 ha, are primarily intended for development of small houses by indigenous villagers. The development intensity of "V" zones is by nature low. In drawing up "V" zones, the authority will consider a range of planning factors, including the existing villages and Village Environs (VEs), the local topography, the existing settlement pattern, site characteristics and the surrounding environment, environmental constraints, as well as the estimate of demand for small houses in the coming 10 years. The boundaries of "V" zones may not necessarily coincide with those of VEs.

Areas of "Village Type Development" Zones by District Council
(as at end-November 2017)

District Total Area (ha)
Yuen Long District 1,236
North District 503
Tai Po District 448
Sai Kung District 349
Islands District 266
Tuen Mun District 226
Sha Tin District 219
Tsuen Wan District 96
Kwai Tsing District 20
Kwun Tong District 8
Southern District 5
Wong Tai Sin District 1
Total About 3,378

  • The Small House Policy has been in place since 1972. Under the Policy, in general, a male indigenous villager aged 18 or above who is descended through the male line from a resident in 1898 of a recognised village in the NT may apply to the authority for permission to build for himself a small house on a suitable site within his own village once during his lifetime. Each building is restricted to three storeys (8.23 metres (m)), with a roofed-over area not exceeding 65.03 sq. m.
  • In general, the construction of small houses is restricted to areas within the "VE" delineated administratively, as well as the "V" zones as stipulated in statutory town plans, provided that the "V" zones encircle or overlap with the VE. VE refers to the area within a 300-foot radius from the edge of the last Village Type House built in the recognised village before the introduction of the Small House Policy on 1 December 1972.

    Benefits of Development

    While there are over 900 ha of unleased and unallocated Government land within "V" zones

    Unleased and unallocated government land statistics compiled in 2012.

    , a considerable portion of the land involves gaps or passageways between existing small houses, slopes and other fragmented or irregular land parcels. Even if individual land parcels are relatively more complete in shape, their development potential may be limited by factors such as topography, area and infrastructural constraints, making it difficult to combine them with other types of development or large-scale development. Therefore, the land available for further development is limited.

    There have been suggestions that the Government should optimise the land use in "V" zones for housing development, including allowing "high-rise" small house developments to increase their development intensity.

    Costs of Development

    Increasing the development density of these land may change the existing rural setting of indigenous villages.

    For developing the land within "V" zones, major costs would include site formation and supporting infrastructural facilities (roads, water supply, sewage, flood control measures, etc.).

    • To facilitate better planning of village developments and to cater for the housing needs of the indigenous villagers who do not own land, the Government introduced the Village Expansion Area (VEA) scheme in 1981. Under this scheme, the Government formed suitable sites on government land or resumed private land in accordance with village layout plans for eligible villagers to apply for Private Treaty Grants of government land to build small houses. Over the years, the Government developed 36 VEAs for the provision of around 2,000 small house sites, out of which close to 1,800 small house grants were executed. The VEA scheme has been frozen since 1999, pending review of the Small House Policy.

    Given the scattered and irregular parcels of land within "V" zones, extensive land resumption and clearance would be inevitable in order to realise the full development potential of the area, involving compensation and rehousing for eligible land owners and households in the villages.

    Challenges and Uncertainties

    Upzoning and transformation of "V" zones, if pursued, would require detailed studies and assessments to confirm all aspects of its feasibility. Coupled with the necessary statutory processes of rezoning, road gazettal and environmental impact assessment, the proposed conversion of "V" zones would likely take at least 10 years to complete. Any proposal on upzoning/ transformation of "V" zones to the extent of releasing land for alternative uses should be considered in the light of the result of Small House Policy Review.

    There are views suggesting that the Government should review the Small House Policy, having regard to the prevailing circumstances of Hong Kong. The existing Small House Policy has been in operation for a long period of time. Any review will inevitably involve complicated issues in areas such as the law, environment, housing, land use planning and demand for land, all of which require careful examination. Any proposed change to the Small House Policy will likely be a subject of intense debate and controversy that will take time to resolve.

    In addition, given that the Small House Policy is currently subject to a judicial review, the Task Force is of the view that it is not in a position to make any public comment on issues that may prejudice the Government's handling of the case.

    Key Points

    1. "V" zones are intended for indigenous villagers to build small houses (restricted to three storeys (8.23m)). The overall development intensity is relatively low to reflect the rural setting of indigenous villages. Changing the land use for high density development would be subject to certain constraints.
    2. Amongst the unleased and unallocated Government land within "V" zones, a considerable portion of the land involves gaps or passageways between existing small houses, slopes and other fragmented or irregular land parcels, rendering them unsuitable for large-scale development.
    3. For redeveloping the land within "V" zones and rezoning for higher-density housing or other purposes, major costs would involve onsite formation and supporting infrastructural facilities. If relocating or re-establishment of recognised villages is involved, there would be land resumption, compensation and re-establishment costs. It would also call into question whether a similar amount of land is required for relocation or re-establishing those villages, thus leading to a zero-sum game in terms of land supply.
    4. There have been suggestions that small houses should be allowed to appropriately raise their development intensity for higher-rise development for better use of the same amount of land, while taking into account the needs of indigenous villagers.
    | Last Revision Date: 5 December 2018