Under the Town Planning Ordinance, no person shall undertake or continue
a development in a development permission area (DPA) unless the development
was a use in existence before the gazetting of the relevant Interim DPA
or DPA plans, or is permitted under the DPA plan or the replacement OZP,
or has obtained permission from the board. Development not satisfying
these criteria is an 'unauthorised development (UD)' subject to enforcement
and prosecution action. Currently, about 19 800 hectares of land in the
rural area are covered by DPA plans or the replacement OZPs.
The Planning Authority may serve statutory notices
on the respective landowners, occupiers and/or responsible persons, requiring
them to discontinue the UD by a specified date unless planning permission
for the development is obtained, or demanding a reinstatement of the land.
It is an offence in law not to comply with the requirements of the notices.
In 2003, 282 new UDs were detected in the rural area.
Most were related to uses such as open storage of vehicles, containers
and construction machinery/materials; workshops; and container vehicle/trailer
parks. The Director of Planning issued 998 warning letters for 246 cases,
673 enforcement notices for 128 cases, and 660 compliance notices for
120 cases. As for prosecution, 18 defendants in 16 cases were convicted.
The average fine imposed was $30,117, with a range of $2,000 to $50,000.
During the year, enforcement action resulted in the discontinuation of
197 UDs covering 55 hectares of land, and regularisation through the planning
application system of another 226 UDs covering 80 hectares of land.