Frequently Asked Questions
Below are some questions and answers for general reference only and these would not prejudice LandsD in exercising its authority and powers according to the Government land lease and the relevant Practice Note (No. 1/ 2016). If you have any doubts about the land lease conditions or land use zoning, you are encouraged to seek professional advice.
1.What kinds of laboratories may benefit from the 'Nil Waiver Fee' for Testing Laboratories Operating in Industrial Buildings (hereunder referred to as 'the measure')?Expand
Testing and calibration laboratories (hereunder referred to as "testing laboratories") may benefit from the measure. Applicants for a waiver of the user condition under the land lease will be required to make a self-declaration and provide evidence (e.g. accreditation status, operation record, expert opinions) to demonstrate that the proposed change of use of the premises is primarily for testing laboratory and ancillary purposes. Upon receiving an application, ITC will advise LandsD whether or not the use as stated in an application is a testing laboratory use eligible under this policy measure.
Laboratories providing clinical testing which requires humans or animals to undergo checking at the Industrial Premises are not covered by the measure because the frequent patronage by a large number of individual clients will expose individuals to higher fire risks posed by other units which are still being used for industrial activities or storage of dangerous and inflammable goods, and because such use is usually not permitted in industrial buildings according to the Notes of Outline Zoning Plans. Medical and veterinary laboratories that do not require humans or animals to undergo checking at the Industrial Premises are eligible to apply.
2.How would I know if my laboratory is a testing laboratory that may benefit under the measure?Expand
You may approach the Secretariat of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a discussion. In general, testing laboratories with accredited activities would be covered.
3.What types of industrial buildings are covered by the measure?Expand
The measure is applicable to a building lawfully erected on a lot which, under the lease conditions, shall not be used for any purpose other than for industrial and / or godown purposes.
However, the measure does not apply to special factories such as those located in storage premises in container terminals and flatted factories built by the Hong Kong Housing Authority, or lots for special industries such as cargo handling uses, ship building and repairing, oil storage and refining and production of associated chemical by-product, manufacture of polystyrene plastics, manufacture and storage of chlorine, hydrogen and textile chemicals, etc. An "industrial / office" building is not covered by the measure.
4.Would a calibration laboratory benefit under the measure?Expand
Yes, calibration laboratories are, in general, covered under the measure. Applicants will be required to make a self-declaration and provide evidence (e.g. accreditation status, operation record, expert opinions) to demonstrate that the proposed use of the premises is for calibration laboratory and ancillary purposes. Government encourages testing laboratories to obtain accreditation from the Hong Kong Accreditation Service.
5.Can a medical laboratory apply for a waiver at nil waiver fee?Expand
Laboratories providing clinical testing which requires humans or animals to undergo checking at the Industrial Premises are not covered by the measure because the frequent patronage by a large number of individual clients will expose individuals to higher fire risks posed by other units which are still being used for industrial activities or storage of dangerous and inflammable goods, and because such use is usually not permitted in industrial buildings according to the Notes of Outline Zoning Plans. Medical and veterinary laboratories that do not require humans or animals to undergo checking at the Industrial Premises are covered in general.
6.Can a certification body apply for a waiver at nil waiver fee?Expand
Premises used solely by a certification body without any testing or calibration activity are not covered under the measure. If the premises concerned are for certification as well as testing and / or calibration laboratory use, then ITC may consider that on a case-by-case basis.
7.We are planning to set up a new testing laboratory in Hong Kong and we have never operated in the territory. Would we benefit from the measure?Expand
Yes, but you will have to locate premises for your proposed testing laboratory first, check restrictions under the land lease and land use zoning on the statutory plan if the subject industrial premises are covered under the measure. If the owner of the premises would like to apply for a waiver under the measure to allow use as a testing laboratory, he/she, or his/her authorised representative can apply to LandsD. Please also refer to reply to QI.1 above.
8.None of the existing tenants in an industrial building is a testing laboratory. Can the landlord apply for the nil fee waiver?Expand
Yes, the landlord can apply for a waiver of the user condition under the measure if the use is permitted under the current land use zoning of the site on the statutory plan, or is subject to a valid planning permission granted by the Town Planning Board, or is considered as an existing use under the provisions of the statutory plan.
9.Is accreditation by the Hong Kong Accreditation Service a requirement for application under the measure?Expand
Accreditation status can be considered as evidence to demonstrate that the proposed change of use is primarily for testing laboratory and ancillary purposes. Nonetheless, whether your laboratory would like to apply for a waiver, Government encourages that you obtain accreditation from the Hong Kong Accreditation Service.
II. Lease & Planning Matters
1.How would I know whether testing laboratories are allowed to operate in an industrial building under lease?Expand
Government leases, under which all private properties in Hong Kong are held, usually contain lease restrictions including the uses to which the land or buildings may be put. Copy of the Government lease can be obtained from the Land Registry. Lot owners may seek professional advice on lease matters.
2.How can I find out the land use zoning within which my industrial building falls?Expand
Please refer to the list of Outline Zoning Plans at www.info.gov.hk/tpb/en/list_of_plans/list_of_plans.html. Details of the Outline Zoning Plans can be browsed at the Statutory Planning Portal ( www.ozp.tpb.gov.hk ).
3.How do I know whether the operation of testing laboratory is permitted under the land use zoning where the concerned industrial building is situated?Expand
Potential applicants can contact / visit the Planning Enquiry Counters or the respective District Planning Office of the Planning Department for enquiry on planning matters.
4.Do I need to apply to Town Planning Board for planning permission before application for nil fee waiver?Expand
If the testing laboratory use of the premises concerned is permitted under the current land use zoning, or is subject to a valid planning permission granted by the TPB, or is considered as an existing use under the provisions of the statutory plan, then there is no need to apply for planning permission. Otherwise, you have to seek planning permission from the TPB before application for nil fee waiver.
III. Application & Approval
1.If an industrial building is under multiple ownership, do I need the consent of all building owners to apply for the waiver?Expand
An owner of any unit of an industrial building may apply to change the use of their premises into a testing laboratory. There is no need for all owners of the same building to submit a joint application. However, applicants are reminded to note any restrictions or obligations under the Deed of Mutual Covenant of the lot, if any.
2.Is an administrative fee payable for applying for the nil fee waiver?Expand
The owner shall be required to pay an administrative fee upon demand by LandsD after submission of an application.
3.After the nil fee waiver to accommodate testing laboratory use has been granted, can I switch back to the original use without terminating the waiver?Expand
Yes. Under the measure, the owner can use the premises for either testing laboratory or the original uses under lease (or both) anytime during the lifetime of the existing building or until expiry or termination of the current land lease, whichever is the earlier. Testing laboratory use is allowed in addition to original uses under lease. If the property owner wishes to revert to the original uses, there would be no need to terminate the waiver. The waiver would remain valid throughout the term of the waiver, and there is no need to apply for another waiver if the premises concerned are to be used as testing laboratories again in future during the term of the waiver.
1.Can an industrial building being wholly-converted into other uses pursuant to the revitalisation of industrial buildings policy accommodate testing laboratories?Expand
The permitted uses of an existing industrial building that has been converted into other uses pursuant to the revitalisation of industrial buildings policy are specified in the special waiver issued. We understand that there are cases where testing laboratory use is among the permissible uses of the revitalised buildings.