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Supports to the Industry > Introduction of 'Nil Waiver Fee' for Testing Laboratories Operating in Industrial Buildings

Introduction of 'Nil Waiver Fee' for Testing Laboratories Operating in Industrial Buildings

Summary

Note 1: An industrial building refers 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. Industrial buildings do not include 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.

 

FAQs

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.

Q1. What kinds of laboratories may benefit from the new measure?

A1. Testing and calibration laboratories (hereunder referred to as 'testing laboratories') may benefit from the new 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 new 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.

Q2. How would I know if my laboratory is a testing laboratory that may benefit under the new measure?

A2. You may approach the Secretariat of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification (enquiry@hkctc.gov.hk) for a discussion. In general, testing laboratories with accredited activities would be covered.

Q3. Can a certification body apply for a waiver at nil waiver fee?

A3. Premises used solely by a certification body without any testing or calibration activity are not covered under the new 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.

Q4. Would a calibration laboratory benefit under the new measure?

A4. Yes, calibration laboratories are, in general, covered under the new 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.

Q5. Can a medical laboratory apply for a waiver at nil waiver fee?

A5. Laboratories providing clinical testing which requires humans or animals to undergo checking at the Industrial Premises are not covered by the new 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.

Q6. Is accreditation by the Hong Kong Accreditation Service a requirement for application under the new measure?

A6. 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.

Q7. 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 new measure?

A7. 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 new measure. If the owner of the premises would like to apply for a waiver under the new 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 Q1 above.

Q8. What types of industrial buildings are covered by the new measure?

A8. The new 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 new 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 new measure.

Q9. Can an industrial building being wholly-converted into other uses pursuant to the revitalisation of industrial buildings policy accommodate testing laboratories?

A9. 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.

Q10. How would I know whether testing laboratories are allowed to operate in an industrial building under lease?

A10. 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.

Q11. If an industrial building is under multiple ownership, do I need the consent of all building owners to apply for the waiver?

A11. 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.

Q12. Is an administrative fee payable for applying for the nil fee waiver?

A12. The owner shall be required to pay an administrative fee upon demand by LandsD after submission of an application.

Q13. How can I find out the land use zoning within which my industrial building falls?

A13. Please refer to the list of Outline Zoning Plans at http://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 ( http://www.ozp.tpb.gov.hk ).

Q14. How do I know whether the operation of testing laboratory is permitted under the land use zoning where the concerned industrial building is situated?

A14. Potential applicants can contact / visit the Planning Enquiry Counters or the respective District Planning Office of the Planning Department for enquiry on planning matters.

Q15. Do I need to apply to TPB for planning permission before application for nil fee waiver?

A15. 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.

Q16. When can I apply for the nil fee waiver?

A16. The new measure is effective from 1 February 2016. The details on application procedures are set out in the Practice Note No. 1/ 2016 issued by LandsD.

Q17. None of the existing tenants in an industrial building is a testing laboratory. Can the landlord apply for the nil fee waiver?

A17. Yes, the landlord can apply for a waiver of the user condition under the new 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 TPB, or is considered as an existing use under the provisions of the statutory plan.

Q18. 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?

A18. Yes. Under the new 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.

Further Information

Please refer to the following Legislative Council Brief for further information about the new measure.

Enquiries

For enquiries on whether a testing laboratory may benefit under the new measure, please contact the Secretariat of the Hong Kong Council for Testing and Certification (enquiry@hkctc.gov.hk).

For enquiries on application procedures, please contact the respective District Lands Office for which contact information can be found at http://www.landsd.gov.hk/en/about/enquiries.htm.

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