Certainty and Discretion in Planning Control: A Case Study of Office Development in Hong Kong
AbstractHong Kong's planning control system entails a framework of statutory zoning plans and a discretionary permission process. Through examining past planning decisions on urban office development applications between 1988 and 1997, this paper explores whether this 'hybrid' system provides both certainty for development capital and flexibility in administrative control. Our study concludes that the Hong Kong system offers considerable certainty, although the decision-making criteria of the development controllers tend to deviate from the planning policy applicable to our application cases. Technical merits of the development schemes are found to be necessary, but not sufficient conditions in securing planning permissions. The rejection reasons given by the planning authority apparently disguise their real concerns. Market forces also affect planning control decisions.