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Old December 14th, 2005, 07:20 AM   #61
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Ex-judge blasts 'lies' on land reclamation
14 November 2005
South China Morning Post

A former High Court judge yesterday accused the government of lying and only pleasing developers in its reclamation policies.

He spoke out as 10,000 people took part in two events with the harbour as their theme.

Simon Li Fook-sean, 83, made a rare public appearance at the closing carnival of Harbour Week in Golden Bauhinia Square, Wan Chai.

After calling the government's position despicable two years ago, Mr Li was again in a hard-hitting mood. The government "obviously chooses to please property developers", he said, referring to its proposed commercial and office development on the new Central reclamation.

He said officials disregarded public opinion and nothing would change "unless all Legco members did something drastic like resigning - but then how would that ever happen?"

Mr Li said: "The government always tells you what they would do to improve the waterfront. But when have they done anything at all? The government is a liar and they have cheated the public."

The event was organised by the Society for Protection of the Harbour, Action Group on Protection of the Harbour and Friends of the Harbour. They hoped a show of people power would persuade the government to abandon its plan to build a new headquarters at the Tamar site and shopping malls on reclaimed land in Central.

About 5,000 people turned out for the closing carnival, with a pop concert and a forum to criticise the government's reclamation plans. Also attending were legislators from various political camps, including Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, Lee Wing-tat and Choy So-yuk.

Former talk-show hosts Wong Yuk-man and Albert Cheng King-hon, now a legislator, held the forum.

A crowd of 5,000 people showed up earlier in the day to take part in Harbour Day, an event supported by the government.

It included 180 boats competing in the annual Around the Island Race organised by the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club, followed by helicopter rescue demonstrations by the Government Flying Services, a boat parade and helicopter rides for 43 young cancer patients.

Society for Protection of the Harbour founder Winston Chu Ka-sun - who had expected 10,000 people to show up for the close of Harbour Week - said he was disappointed at the turnout.

He revealed the society had held talks with the yacht club - a partner of the Harbour Day's organising committee - in May on the possibility of an activity to promote harbour protection, but he claimed the club said it did not want to damage its relationship with the government.
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Old December 14th, 2005, 05:10 PM   #62
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Reclamation projects remain sensitive to public opinion
13 December 2005
Lloyd's List

MARINE operators such as Van Oord, Jan de Nul and Dredging International are playing a waiting game as Hong Kong mulls the possibility of further reclamation projects to expand its limited land area, writes Keith Wallis

Gone are the boom days of the 1990s when 75% of the world’s dredging fleet was working in Hong Kong to create about 1,500 ha of land for the new international airport and related projects.

Instead, public opposition backed up by a harbour protection law against future harbour infill projects imposed a virtual moratorium on dredging and reclamation schemes in Victoria Harbour.

That ban was only lifted after several court cases clarified the law on harbour reclamation, which is now only allowed “when there is an overriding public need”.

Yet despite this clarification, public opposition persists. This in turn makes the government very sensitive to future reclamation projects, including those outside the inner harbour area covered by the harbour protection ordinance.

At present just one reclamation scheme is going ahead, the third phase of a project in the Central business district. Van Oord is part of a consortium that is forming about 18 ha of new land between the Star Ferry piers and the convention and exhibition centre near the Wan Chai district.

An adjacent project to reclaim land from Wan Chai to Causeway Bay has stalled after a court case that the government lost. As a result, officials are redrawing the reclamation plans.

Officials are also mulling a smaller reclamation scheme at the former Kai Tak airport, although the plan will be limited to capping an area of contaminated mud close inshore to a heavily industrialised area of the city in the Kowloon district.

Outside the harbour limits, government officials have proposed reclaiming about 112 ha from the sea at Siu Ho Wan on Lantau Island, about 10 km from the new airport, to create land for a new logistics park.

Longer term, industry insiders believe there will be a need to reclaim about 400 ha of land to create a third runway at Hong Kong international airport. The Airport Authority has already reserved the required area in the government’s planning blueprint.

Further reclamation is also expected to be carried out on Lantau Island if plans go ahead for a US$3bn bridge spanning the Peal River estuary between Hong Kong, Macau and Zhuhai.

While reclamation contractors wait for projects to move in Hong Kong, there are likely to be more opportunities in the former Portuguese colony of Macau after the government announced plans to increase Macau's land area by 13% over the next few years.
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Old December 16th, 2005, 04:47 AM   #63
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Harbour panel backs Central bypass
13 December 2005
South China Morning Post

Harbour advisers have given their blessing for the construction of a waterfront road to ease traffic jams in Central and Wan Chai.

But they said the government should come up with sustainable transport management measures to resolve traffic problems in the long run, such as adjusting tolls for the cross-harbour tunnels and controlling development along the Eastern Corridor.

Members of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee's Wan Chai development review subgroup decided the Central-Wan Chai bypass should be built either in the form of a tunnel or a flyover.

An earlier suggestion to build at ground level was rejected because it would require extensive reclamation and the reclaimed land would largely be used by roads instead of to enhance the waterfront environment.

Building a tunnel or a flyover would require reclamation off Eastern district. A consultant will now study the extent of reclamation needed for each option, and the public will then be consulted.

Initial estimates suggest that a flyover would require less reclamation than a tunnel but would have an adverse visual impact at the waterfront.

The government advisers had earlier refused to endorse plans to build a Central-Wan Chai bypass. But an expert panel reported that a bypass was needed, while pointing out it was not a long-term fix for congestion. It said a bypass alone could not end traffic jams since every road had a finite capacity.

"The growth of traffic demand over a decade would overrun its capacity," the report said.

The subgroup ran a public consultation exercise early this year in which it invited people to give their opinions on the future use of the harbour off Causeway Bay. The subgroup is now analysing the views it gathered to prepare for the second stage of consultation.

Many of the submissions received from companies and groups supported the tunnel suggestion. Among those favouring that option were Swire Properties, the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club and the Business and Professionals Federation.

Hardy Lok Kung-chin, director of the Society for Protection of the Harbour, stressed that the subgroup must keep open the option of building a flyover.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers, said: "We should always bear in mind the possibility of legal action against reclamation. To avoid this, we should include the flyover suggestion and let the public choose."
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Old December 19th, 2005, 04:56 AM   #64
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Stop and rethink Tamar

A new harbor protection coalition is demanding the government abandon its controversial Tamar redevelopment plans.

Monday, December 19, 2005
Hong Kong Standard

A new harbor protection coalition is demanding the government abandon its controversial Tamar redevelopment plans.

Members of the Stop and Rethink alliance said in a statement Sunday that the government should not rush into "schemes it has plainly not thought through."

Opposition to the government's HK$6 billion, 4.2-hectare site Tamar redevelopment plan has come from politicians, business leaders and conservation groups since the administration resurrected the proposal, which was shelved in November 2003 amid the tough economic climate following the SARS outbreak.

They argued that the government's plan to turn Tamar into its headquarters and house the Legislative Council will be a waste of prime land, which could be auctioned for several billion dollars. Any redevelopment will also ruin the harborfront.

Opponents have said that Kai Tak is better suited for a government headquarters.

The new alliance presented its views before the Legislative Council at a special meeting of the planning, lands and works panel on Saturday.

The panel later passed a non-binding motion urging the government to review its proposals for Tamar and the Central harborfront and to conduct a review with public consultation before taking further steps.

Paul Zimmerman, convenor of Designing Hong Kong Harbour District, told the panel about problems with the current plans.

He also showed photographs of harborfronts in cities in the mainland, Taiwan, Europe, United States and Australia to demonstrate what Hong Kong can achieve with the last available land around Victoria Harbour.

According to Zimmerman, legislators were "quite surprised after we presented maps and photographs."

He added: "I have a feeling this is the first time they have seen a comprehensive overview of the plan.

"This is really the last opportunity left and the government should reconsider the proposal."

Zimmerman said the motion should serve as a warning to the government that it may not be given the go-ahead by Legco to fund the project.

"Obviously, legislators won't approve the financial arrangement of the site if the government can't convince them," Zimmerman said.

He called on the government to recognize that, after decades of reclamation, a new process is required to fix Hong Kong's urban, transport and harbor planning.

Members of the new alliance include the Civic Exchange, Clear The Air, Designing Hong Kong Harbour District, Friends of the Earth, Friends of the Harbour, Save Our Shorelines, Society for Protection of the Harbour, WWF Hong Kong and prominent individuals.

The alliance also voiced concerns over traffic congestion and the negative environmental impact the development will have.

According to a recent report by the Transport Department, the development will add almost 10 million square feet of gross floor area and will attract an additional 7,623 vehicle trips per hour to Central. Even if all the proposed roads are built, in particular the super highway known as P2, traffic will be saturated again by 2016.

"Government lands policy for the area in and near Tamar, which will move tens of thousands more jobs into the Central waterfront area, strains transport to the breaking point, undermines environmental objectives and ignores sound principles of urban planning. Please, let us not be fooled again by government assurances that this fix will finally solve the problem. It will not," said Bill Barron, of the Institute for the Environment of the Hong Kong University of Science & Technology.

The chairman of Save Our Shorelines, John Bowden, added: "The new proposed road capacity is the same as in the metro plan developed in the mid- 1980s. However, occupation and density have been reduced significantly. Then why do we need the same roads? We should question the proposed overcapacity and overprovision of surface roads in the Central area. Stop and think. This is why we need a full review of transport provisions in light of reduced development plans and projections. The government should maximize land-use for public open space and harbor- oriented land uses, not for redundant road capacity."

The alliance also said air pollution in Central will worsen if the new government offices are built at the Tamar site.

Air quality expert Jimmy Fung of Clear the Air said the government's pollution model "pretends Central is a flat surface," and ignores the fact that pollution gets trapped by tall buildings.

In other words, pollution predictions on the Tamar site and the Central Reclamation Phase III were based on 1999 data plugged into a prediction model that assumes Central has no buildings.

This means that official figures seriously underestimate the pollution levels - air pollution could be three times higher than predicted by the Environmental Protection Department's 2001 environmental impact assessment report. "We will not accept anything from the government regarding the Tamar site until the Environmental Impact Assessment ... is updated with recent, actual air pollution data using a newer, proper model," Fung said.

"The time needed to produce such a report would only take about three months and cost HK$300,000. There is no need for the government to rush in proceeding the Tamar development."

Markus Shaw, chairman of WWF, added: "The issue is not a small matter. Since this will be the last reclamation along the Central waterfront, we only have one chance to get it right: we are literally planning a `harborfront for a thousand years."'

Despite opposition, the government maintains Tamar is the most suitable site for its headquarters and the Legislative Council. The project is expected to begin in 2007 and be completed by 2010.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:57 AM   #65
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Opening move for Tamar contract
21 December 2005
South China Morning Post

Interested parties have been invited to apply for prequalification for the contract on the planned government headquarters on the Tamar site, despite lawmakers' opposition to the plan.

A government spokesman said yesterday the main purpose of the prequalification for the $4 billion design-and-build contract was to identify up to five applicants with proven design, managerial, financial and technical capabilities.

"The prequalified applicants will be invited to submit tenders for the contract but prior to that we will, in the second quarter of 2006, consult the Legislative Council for funding approval," the spokesman said.

But Democratic party legislator James To Kun-sun said of the move: "It shows that the government does not respect the Legislative Council at all. It is of no use. At the end of the day, the government must come to Legco to ask us for the funding. We might not approve it at the time."

The contract will cover the government complex, Legco complex and the Civic Place proposed for the Tamar site.

The spokesman said: "The concept design should illustrate integration of the Tamar development with its surrounding areas,'' adding that Civic Place would comprise about half of the site and would be designed as a public leisure and recreational open space.

The project is expected to start in 2007 for completion in 2010, the spokesman said.

"The eligibility criteria are laid out in the prequalification document. Interested parties may apply from now until March 14," he said.

The document states that the design for the proposed development should take account of the goals and planning principles for the harbour devised by the Town Planning Board and Harbourfront Enhancement Committee.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:03 PM   #66
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The Tamar site question - can people power prevail?
The future of this contentious piece of prime land rests in the hands of a partisan Town Planning Board

16 December 2005
South China Morning Post

The government is determined to build new headquarters at the Tamar site, but there are many who want to block the plan. The campaign to stop the development has heated up debate on the future of the former British naval station HMS Tamar, as well as the existing government headquarters on Lower Albert Road.

Among the opponents, the Society for Protection of the Harbour and the Action Group on Protection of the Harbour are probably the most vocal.

The Action Group has filed a rezoning request to the Town Planning Board to turn the four-hectare waterfront plot into a park. The application will be heard today.

The group argues that Tamar is the last piece of prime, undeveloped waterfront land and should be used as a public open space. It questions the government's decision, which it says will eventually turn the promised open space in front of the new headquarters into a piece of uninviting real estate too ugly for public use.

The group also says building new government headquarters on the site will worsen traffic congestion in Central, after a Transport Department study estimated the development would increase average traffic flow by 800 cars an hour.

"Even the proposed Central-Wan Chai bypass would not solve the problem of increased traffic flow," said Kwok Ka-ki, a founder of the Action Group and an independent legislator. "The Transport Department says saturation would be reached by 2016. Will the government propose reclamation again to solve the problem?"

Mr Kwok is pessimistic about the board's decision, saying: "[The board] is chaired by an official; all members are appointed and two-thirds of them are somehow connected to property developers. It is not accountable to the public, but I shall exhaust all possible means to pursue my cause."

Under the government's plan, Tamar will house the Legislative Council, the Executive Council, the chief executive and his office, as well as all the bureaus. At least four high-rises will be built on the site. According to the statutory plan, at least two hectares of land facing the waterfront will be turned into an open space for the public.

As the administrative wing is still researching the needs of various bureaus, it cannot provide concrete information, even on the floor space needed.

Since the government wants to save time, it will award the design and construction contract to one contractor. The design of the new headquarters is another unknown.

Before Mr Kwok and his group entered the fray, the battle against reclamation and land use in Central was dominated by the Society for Protection of the Harbour and its founder, Winston Chu Ka-sun.

Five years ago, Mr Chu commissioned Sir Peter Hall, a professor from the Bartlett School of Planning at University College London to compile arguments on reserving Tamar for public space.

The report, called A New Vision for Tamar, says: "[As] the land at the centrepiece of the planning area, the entire concept of the Central waterfront development depends critically upon it, and without it the entire scheme fails. A decision on the Tamar site cannot and should not be taken in isolation, but in the context of a decision on the wider Central waterfront development scheme."

It also says: "Hong Kong lacks the classic local urban parks that are characteristic of world cities such as London, Paris and even New York. In Hong Kong, the interests of pedestrians have been consistently ignored in favour of road traffic, despite the obvious potential for creating largely vehicle-free zones in areas such as Central and Tsim Sha Tsui.

"To escape this, the Hong Kong people have embraced an air-conditioned culture and a series of movement networks above ground level, leaving the ground level disconnected to new users. This is particularly true of the waterfront, which is cut off from the commercial and residential districts behind it by very unfriendly vehicular thoroughfares crossed by bridges."

The report concludes that proper planning for Tamar provides a golden opportunity to address the problem and give the public access to the waterfront.

"The site of HMS Tamar has important associations with Hong Kong's colonial past, as does its position on the harbour. This is potentially significant in terms of the need for Hong Kong to rediscover its heritage; and an important source of tourism," it says.

Mr Chu paid $548,000 for the research. "Nothing has changed over the past five years. The arguments are still valid."

He said he was optimistic about the harbour's future. "Before July 1, 2003, I was pessimistic about the future of the harbour. After half a million people marched to demonstrate against the subversion law, the government eventually realised it needed to listen to the public. Now I'm optimistic.

"To save the harbour, the people of Hong Kong must come out and voice their objection."

While all the attention is focused on the future of Tamar, there are also voices calling on the government to preserve its existing headquarters.

The Hong Kong Institute of Planners advocates small government headquarters at Tamar, housing only the Legislative Council, the Executive Council, the chief executive and his office. It wants most of the land to be performance venues and parkland for public enjoyment.

The institute also wants to see the existing headquarters at Lower Albert Road preserved.

Patrick Hase, a historian, said that the whole hill at Lower Albert Road and Garden Road had been set aside for government use shortly after the British landed in Hong Kong, in 1841. Since then the administration, the army, judiciary and the church were located west of Garden Road.

Mr Hase said St John's Cathedral was funded by the Hong Kong government, even though the Anglican church had never been the dominant church in the city. Hence land for the cathedral, and for Bishop's House and its attached school, were found on Government Hill.

Above the Colonial Secretariat, the land was set aside for the Botanical Gardens, another government project dating from early colonial days. Below the secretariat, the old Hilton hotel site, now the Cheung Kong Centre, was originally a gun battery, and the Beaconsfield House site was also used for government purposes.

Pong Yuen-yee, Institute of Town Planners vice-president, said: "There are many historic buildings on the hill, such as Government House, the Court of Final Appeal, the tram station and the British and US consulates-general. We oppose selling the government headquarters site for commercial or residential development."

Ms Pong said the hill was dotted with mature trees, and rated high as a must-see destination for tourists. "The trees will surely be gone if the government hands over the land to property developers."

The institute proposed the area between Robinson Road, the Zoological and Botanical Gardens to Battery Path and Cotton Tree Drive should be turned into a cultural heritage district.

"Because of development, we have bulldozed countless historic buildings in the past," Ms Pong said. "We shouldn't repeat the same mistakes, sacrificing our history. Money can't buy history."
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Old December 24th, 2005, 07:21 PM   #67
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The reclamation has begun!







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Old December 25th, 2005, 01:59 PM   #68
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Nice schots! Kowloon skyline looks great! But Hanoi Road is growing so slow...
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Old December 25th, 2005, 02:14 PM   #69
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yeah great pics
and another redevelopment to look forward to in 2006
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Old December 25th, 2005, 05:27 PM   #70
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Can someone post a plan of what the shoreline of Hong Kong Island will look like after reclamation? Also, I'd just like to know if there is going to be reclamation in Causeway Bay...
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Old December 25th, 2005, 08:54 PM   #71
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Me too. Also, I wonder is there any other 200+m projects in Tsim Sha Tsui (core or East) like Hanoi Road.
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Old December 26th, 2005, 09:30 AM   #72
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Great shot, nice looking. How much is the cost for reclamation land like this in HK.?
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Old December 29th, 2005, 03:07 PM   #73
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Old December 30th, 2005, 07:02 PM   #74
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December 20, 2005
Government Press Release
Transport experts back bypass option

There is a compelling transport need to build the Central-Wan Chai Bypass, Transport Advisory Committee Chairperson Teresa Cheng says, adding toll roads can complement, but cannot replace, the link.

The committee discussed today a transport expert panel report on the sustainable transport planning for the northern shore of Hong Kong Island, including the necessity of the bypass.

Members noted the expert panel's affirmation of the transport need for constructing the bypass and its planned slip roads to improve the reliability of the street network as well as tackling deteriorating traffic conditions in the area.

The bypass is the last, yet to be built, section of a strategic highway running along the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. It will connect the existing flyover near Rumsey Street in Central to the existing Island Eastern Corridor. When the bypass is in place, vehicles commuting between the Eastern District and the western parts of the city, such as Tuen Mun and the airport, can use the strategic highway without having to pass through the busy districts of Causeway Bay, Wan Chai and Central as at present.

Road P2 a key interim measure

Members backed the bypass' slip roads at the Convention & Exhibition Centre area and at Victoria Park Road-Gloucester Road-Hing Fat Street to magnify its benefits.

It recognised the need for Road P2 as an important interim measure to address traffic congestion in the Central area before the bypass comes about, and suggests measures to improve traffic conditions along the east-west corridor on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island.

"On road pricing, we agree with the expert panel's view that without the provision of proper infrastructure, road pricing alone cannot serve as a panacea to the traffic problem. Road pricing can complement, but cannot replace, the Central-Wan Chai Bypass," Ms Cheng said.

On the progress of the measures to enhance road and public light bus safety, Ms Cheng said attitude and behaviour has a great bearing on road safety, adding that education and publicity will instill in drivers a good driving attitude.
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Old December 31st, 2005, 10:13 AM   #75
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Opinion : Legco motion calling for Tamar review ignored
26 December 2005
South China Morning Post

After a year of hard work by more than a dozen groups of environmentalists, in trying to provide the people of Hong Kong with a good living environment and quality of life, a motion - calling for a review of the planning for the Central waterfront, including the Tamar site - was passed unanimously on December 17 by the Legislative Council's panel on planning, lands and works.

But it came as a bombshell to learn from your article, "Opening move for Tamar contract" (December 21), that the government had simply ignored the motion, and is still proceeding with the Tamar project.

In doing so, the government is showing blatant disrespect for Legco, the democratic process and the rule of law.

The motion said, in part, that in view of the government's undertakings to develop Hong Kong into a world-class city, and to provide a vibrant and beautiful Central waterfront for the enjoyment of the community, the panel urged it to comply with the recommendations made by the Town Planning Board on August 5, and an earlier motion by the panel, by reviewing the Tamar development project and the planned land uses for the waterfront.

The motion asked the government to consult the public before taking forward any further project and planning work, and also to suspend the tender procedure on the development of the Tamar site, pending the review and public consultation. It proposed that a subcommittee be established to review the planning for the Central waterfront, including Tamar.

In the recent proposal for political reform, the government has been making high-sounding statements about the importance of Legco and the democratic process. Yet in reality, the government only values Legco when it supports its policies. The government's hypocritical attitude is disgraceful and insulting, both to Legco and the public.

There is therefore a long way to go before Hong Kong can achieve an enlightened government which will truly represent its people.

WINSTON K. S. CHU, former chairman, Society for Protection of the Harbour
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Old December 31st, 2005, 07:30 PM   #76
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An uninterrupted harbour view
24 December 2005
South China Morning Post

The plan to build a new government headquarters and legislature on the Tamar site is being supported by the chief executive, many politicians, businesspeople and professionals. The administration has also tried to convince the public that the project is vital, creating jobs in the hard-hit construction industry.

Yet, many others have expressed their concerns on the subject, presented studies that have been ignored, and proposed alternatives. The debate continues, while the government pushes the proposal at full speed. It is difficult for the public to fully understand the issues involved, as the vital information is either missing or difficult to find.

So we should ask: do we want to preserve the view of our harbour from The Peak for future generations? Do we want a sustainable and responsible approach for the proposed Tamar development?

Do we want a vibrant, culturally diversified and inclusive public civic space at Tamar, with easy accessibility to the harbourfront? Do we want to bring the people to the harbour and the harbour to the people?

Further, we need to know: do we want to preserve our historical and cultural heritage buildings and invaluable green space surrounding the existing Central Government Offices? And do we really want sustainable development for Hong Kong for our future generations? The answers should be clear.

Since 1991, the government has recommended that height controls be introduced to protect the view from The Peak. Yet, little has been done to implement this.

Similarly, the Urban Design Guidelines say that developments should not reduce the amount of harbour water surface visible from The Peak. In the government's own words: "There is no possibility of compromise. Either height [controls are] adopted, or the laissez-faire approach is maintained and the view to the ridgeline [including the harbour view from The Peak] will become obscured over the next few years." The guidelines also called for a stepped approach to building heights for developments along waterfront areas.

Unfortunately, the guidelines are not yet law. So, sadly, we have been witnessing the continued obscuring of the views - of the ridge of hills on the Kowloon side, and the harbour - by developers. But how can we blame them, as they are just trying to maximise profits? Not only has the government failed to introduce statutory controls to enforce the guidelines, but it is taking the lead in ignoring them. In November, I asked the government to release to the public the visual impact assessment of the proposed Tamar development, but it has not responded. My own study indicates that the Tamar project would significantly reduce the water surface area visible from The Peak.

Redeveloping the Central Government Offices will require removing all the trees in and around the compound. The project will remove part of Hong Kong's heritage from our collective memory. To meet its ambitious land-sale target, it will have to build huge commercial blocks that are incompatible with the setting, violating all urban-design guidelines. And the additional traffic could not possibly be absorbed. This, and the traffic generated by the Central reclamations, would accelerate the saturation of the proposed Central-Wan Chai bypass.

In view of the adverse social, environmental and traffic impacts, is it time to fundamentally review the land use and density of the whole region from a sustainable development point of view?Steve Chan Yiu-fai is an independent member of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee
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Old December 31st, 2005, 11:12 PM   #77
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The past :


Rendering of Central waterfront :


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Old December 31st, 2005, 11:24 PM   #78
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I like that last rendering, fits in very nicely to the surroundings!
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Old January 3rd, 2006, 07:56 AM   #79
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Ip in Tamar jobs drive for construction woes

The HK$6 billion Tamar Site project will help alleviate higher-than-average unemployment in the construction sector, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip said in pushing for legislative approval for the development by 2007.

Michael Ng
Hong Kong Standard
Tuesday, January 03, 2006

The HK$6 billion Tamar Site project will help alleviate higher-than-average unemployment in the construction sector, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour Stephen Ip said in pushing for legislative approval for the development by 2007.

But a unionist in the construction industry said Ip's plan alone would fail to meet the urgent needs of thousands of jobless workers.

Ip said in a radio interview that with more than 30 new hotels completed last year and "a few dozen more" to be built in the next few years, construction unemployment has already fallen from a peak of 20 percent early last year to 11 percent in November.

He hoped the new SAR government headquarters and Legislative Council project at the Tamar site, if endorsed by late 2007, and other public works in the territory will employ some of the 30,000 jobless construction workers.

However, Choi Chun-wa, chairman of the Hong Kong Construction Industry Employees General Union, said that along with those out of work, another third of construction workers are under- employed. Immediate relief measures were more urgent than a long-term plan, he said.

"Secretary Ip needs to be pragmatic. His plan is to be realized in 2007, but how about 2006? What will these unemployed workers do for a living this year? Are you asking them to wait and starve for another 365 days?"

Although the government is willing to lower the height of the new government complex from 180 meters to 130-160 meters to preserve views of the harbor, environmentalists are still worried about potential pollution and visual blight caused by the project.

The government must still lobby for the support of the pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, which insists the new complex should be built at the site of the former airport at Kai Tak.

At the same time, the Democratic Party is worried about the project's high density and visual impact on the surrounding environment.

Legco's subcommittee to review the planning for the central waterfront will start discussing the development in its first meeting next Friday.

Turning to general employment, Ip said the SAR's jobless rate has fallen from 6.1 percent early last year to 5.3 percent by November and that he is "prudently optimistic" about employment prospects for this year.

But he warned the local economy is still vulnerable to uncertainties such as high crude oil prices and high interest rates.

"We will maintain a sense of crisis and tailor different employment assistance programs according to changes in the employment market."

The DAB is a strong opponent of the Tamar redevelopment plan.

It claims Tamar, which is a prime waterfront site, would generate an estimated income of HK$6.65 billion for the government in an auction of land for commercial use.

The party also says that construction of a new government headquarters at the site of the old airport can be completed by 2012, which is only three years later than that envisaged for the Tamar site.
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Old January 5th, 2006, 11:44 PM   #80
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Harbour watchdog closes its office Founder Winston Chu to retire, staffing levels are reduced
6 January 2006
South China Morning Post

Hong Kong's biggest harbour protection group has closed its office in Central, and founder Winston Chu Ka-sun is planning to retire later this year.

The Society for Protection of the Harbour, which took the government to court in 2003 over reclamation, has also reduced its staff to just one part-time worker.

The move has been viewed by other harbour advisers as a scaling back in the society's operations following the government's commitment not to reclaim land from Victoria Harbour after the legal battle.

The advisers also said the developments could change the landscape of the harbour protection campaign.

Both Mr Chu and the society's chairwoman, Christine Loh Kung-wai, said the latest moves were just a change in strategy.

The aim of the society, formed in 1995, is to stop the government from reclaiming the harbour for land sales. It rented an office in Wyndham Street, Central, and hired two full-time staff.

The office lease did not expire until April but the group has already returned the premises to the landlord. From January 1, its registered address switched to Mr Chu's law firm in Admiralty and it has hired only one part-time staff member, with its campaign manager, Angus Ho Hon-wai, resigning to join the private sector.

Mr Chu, 65, said he would retire by the end of the year and concentrate on writing a book, Saving Victoria Harbour, detailing his fight against reclamation. He stepped down as chairman in October 2003 after receiving threatening letters.

"Most of our money is from public donations," Mr Chu said. "We must make good use of the money. As our campaign manager decided to leave, we took the opportunity to restructure the office. We still have many meetings to discuss our way forward but we don't have much administration work to do.

"In the past, Hong Kong had only one group that cared about the harbour. But after we took the government to court, many people realised they needed to act, and act quickly and decisively, or the harbour would be gone forever. Now we are more a co-ordinator in the anti-reclamation movement."

Mr Chu said the Harbour Business Forum, a coalition of 106 of the city's largest companies and business groups, including HSBC, Jardine Matheson, Kerry Group, Wharf (Holdings) and the Swire Group, shared much of the society's previous work.

Ms Loh said: "By saving on rent, staff and other utilities, we will have more resources for campaigning. It is going to be a long and winding road. We will have a forum on the Central waterfront next month - it takes money."

Greg Wong Chak-yan, who represents the Hong Kong Institute of Engineers on the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee, said: "The society did a great job on protecting the harbour. If it had never existed, I'm afraid our harbour [would be] long gone. But it {hellip} cornered the government and forced it to commit to no more reclamation. The society doesn't have much of a job to do now. It is natural for it to scale back the operation."

He also said the society's uncompromising opposition to reclamation had hampered it from playing a more active role in harbour planning, since there were other new groups that were more prepared to work with the government in efforts to improve the waterfront.
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