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Old July 21st, 2009, 08:00 PM   #1
hkskyline
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HONG KONG | Southern District Projects & Redevelopments

Doubters question tourism plan for Wong Chuk Hang
A bevy of new hotels is set to redefine the old industrial area, but some property analysts fear they will not draw the crowds

18 May 2005
South China Morning Post

The skyline of Wong Chuk Hang, the industrial area close to Aberdeen, will change over the next three years with the $5.5 billion revamp of Ocean Park and developers' plans to raze industrial properties and build hotels.

The change to the area is part of the government's attempt to transform Wong Chuk Hang and Aberdeen into a tourism destination, sparking a wave of redevelopment.

However, some property analysts fear the plan may be too ambitious as there is virtually no customer base to support the new hotels.

The Town Planning Board has approved plans to replace nine industrial buildings in Wong Chuk Hang with hotels.

Chinachem hotel division director George Kuk said: "We see great potential hotel redevelopment in the area because of its proximity to Repulse Bay and Deep Water Bay."

But the owner decided to hold on to the property in anticipation of further property price increases.

Mr Kuk said the multibillion-dollar makeover plan for Ocean Park, initiated by park chairman Allan Zeman, would boost demand for hotel rooms.

He said not all visitors would want to stay overnight at Ocean Park. "Some will prefer to check in to hotels nearby."

Mr Zeman unveiled the $5.5 billion plan for Ocean Park in March. The completion date is 2010.

The proposal is for three Ocean Park hotels - the Ocean Hotel on the waterfront near the entrance, the Summit Spa and Resort, and the Fisherman's Wharf in nearby Tai Shue Wan.

"Anything to take away the old and ugly-looking buildings is good [for the area]," Mr Kuk said.

But property consultants said the future of Wong Chuk Hang depended on a strong tourism inflow and land premium talks with the government.

Consultants said the government had recently set up a taskforce to review tourism-type developments on the south side of Hong Kong Island but it had not decided if it would offer loans for the Ocean Park project.

However, other big players such as Cheung Kong (Holdings), Sun Hung Kai Properties and Henderson Land Development have bought factory sites in the area.

The developers are now negotiating land premiums with the government.

Alva To, research director at DTZ Debenham Tie Leung, doubted the area could become a tourist and commercial centre.

"With developers' investments focusing only on hotels, there are no supporting facilities such as shopping malls and offices to create a cluster effect [to ensure a customer base]," he said.

Jones Lang LaSalle regional director Lau Chong-kong expected the first batch of hotels to be in the low- to mid-range segment.

"Hotels will have food and beverage outlets just to serve their guests," he said.

But he said developers would be interested in building office blocks and shopping malls once most of the hotels were built.

If the MTR line extends to Ocean Park, the journey from Admiralty to the park will take about five minutes.

Mr Lau said this would speed up the process of transforming Wong Chuk Hang into a new commercial centre.

"Improving accessibility will encourage more people to visit the area and will enhance the commercial value of existing properties," he said.

Colliers International research head Simon Lo Wing-fai said industrial space in the area rented for an average of $5 per sq ft, although quality buildings could fetch up to $10 per sq ft.

But he said developers would have more incentive to knock down underutilised industrial buildings to make way for hotel projects if high-end hotels in the area were able to rent rooms for $1,000 a night.

Average vacancy rates in the overall industrial sector were 8.7 per cent last year, down from a peak of 10.9 per cent in 2001, according to the Rating and Valuation Department.

Mr Lo said most factory sites in the area, particularly those with redevelopment potential as hotels, had already been snapped up by developers.
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Old July 24th, 2009, 08:25 PM   #2
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Wong Chuk Hang Estate
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Old July 29th, 2009, 08:47 PM   #3
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Wheelock plans flats instead of mega hotel
11 May 2005
The Standard

Wheelock Properties plans to embark on a HK$2 billion residential redevelopment project in Wong Chuk Hang -instead of a planned mega hotel - after agreeing to buy an industrial site for HK$455 million.

The 49,000-square-foot site was originally rezoned for a 38-story hotel development _ one of the biggest in Hong Kong in recent years, with 1,462 guest rooms _ overlooking nearby Ocean Park.

However, Wheelock said that as leading developers are planning to build hotels in the same area, it will consider a residential project to avoid stiff competition. Hotel projects in Wong Chuk Hang by Cheung Kong (Holdings), Sun Hung Kai Properties, Henderson Land Development, Swire Properties, Chinachem Group and HKR International are expected to provide nearly 10,000 rooms over the next five years.

The government is also being urged to authorize the building of three hotels next to Ocean Park to go with a long- debated extension of the MTR for an Island South line that would deliver customers to the park's front door.

``We acquired the site to replenish our land bank first and then we will study a right development, with other options including residential,'' Wheelock property investment director Gareth Williams told The Standard.

As the redevelopment is scheduled to be completed in five years, Williams said the company is not in a rush to apply for a residential development to the Planning Department in the near term.

The project, at No2 Heung Yip Road, would provide more than 500 apartments, and Williams estimated the current construction costs at between HK$1,000 and HK$1,200 per square foot. Centaline Surveyors associate director Chris Chau estimated total investments at almost HK$2 billion, or more than HK$4,000 psf, including construction costs, existing land costs and land premiums. The project would fetch as much as HK$2.5 billion, assuming a selling price of HK$5,000 to HK$6,000 psf, Chau said.

Currently on the site is a six-story industrial building completed in 1973, with total gross floor area of some 204,000 sqft and 82 percent of the space is leased. The site was approved by the Town Planning Board for a hotel redevelopment, with a total gross area of about 735,000 sqft, fetching HK$619 psf for the land price.

The transaction is the largest sale of an industrial building this year, according to Jones Lang LaSalle, which handled the deal.
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Old August 10th, 2009, 07:10 PM   #4
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Old August 10th, 2009, 07:50 PM   #5
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bringing back all the teenage memory~~
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Old August 11th, 2009, 12:05 PM   #6
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Jones Lang LaSalle regional director Lau Chong-kong expected the first batch of hotels to be in the low- to mid-range segment.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 01:32 AM   #7
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Are we at least keeping one of them for adaptive reuse? I have a feeling we'll regret demo-ing these in 50 years.
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Old August 13th, 2009, 02:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spicytimothy View Post
Are we at least keeping one of them for adaptive reuse? I have a feeling we'll regret demo-ing these in 50 years.
No. They are all being taken down right now.
They were in pretty bad shape before the demolition, it would have been a very challenge job to maintain for only historic preservation.

Majority of the whole former Wong Chuk Hang Estate will be granted to the MTRC to use as the depot for the SIL, and the over station properties.

As of a few weeks back, only two and half buildings were left.

All pictures were taken by a friend of mine.

2008-03-05



2008-05-04




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2009-01-15





2009-02-28



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Old August 17th, 2009, 03:36 PM   #9
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Location



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Old August 18th, 2009, 07:43 AM   #10
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Ahh...childhood memories...
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Old September 3rd, 2009, 05:04 AM   #11
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Move MTR line, rehab centre pleads
Noise of South Island Line will disturb mentally disabled residents, management says

14 August 2009
South China Morning Post

The operator of a Wong Chuk Hang rehabilitation centre has demanded that the MTR move its planned South Island Line further away from its buildings, which house more than 250 autistic or mentally disabled residents.

Noise from construction, to begin in 2011, and the line's operation might agitate vulnerable residents to the extent they could harm themselves or others, the operator says.

More than 1,800 people with various disabilities live in the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals Jockey Club Rehabilitation Centre, including 261 who are autistic or mentally disabled.

The South Island Line will run between Admiralty and South Horizons with three intermediate stations, including Wong Chuk Hang. The railway, on a 24-metre-high viaduct, will be about 10 metres from one of the centre's buildings, assistant superintendent Allan Ho Kam-cheung said.

"We used to be very happy about the construction of the South Island Line, but now it has turned into a nightmare. The railway is too high and too near," Mr Ho said.

The viaduct would also block views from the building's first two floors, he said.

Mr Ho quoted research by New Zealand's Massey University that found noise annoyed autistic people. For children with the condition, it caused pain, distress and confusion as well as eroded their ability to learn.

"What others perceive as normal and tolerable can be extremely intense and painful to them," he said.

If the line could not be moved, the height of the viaduct should be reduced and it should be fitted with noise barriers, he said.

The call was backed by parents who said their mentally disabled children had hurt themselves and put others at risk when agitated by noise.

Y. M. Wong, whose 33-year-old autistic son has lived at the centre for 11 years, said he had hurt himself and others when disturbed by noise. "He can't talk. He hurts himself in order to convey his feelings," she said. He would bang his head against a wall and bite his hands, sometimes so severely he needed hospital treatment.

Mrs Wong, who has breast cancer, said she could not take care of her son herself and the centre's services were essential to her.

Rebecca Chan said her 28-year-old autistic son had overturned tables and shattered glass when he lost his temper, which could be triggered just by the sound of a motorcycle.

An MTR spokeswoman said the company has just started working on the detailed design of the railway and it would do all it technically could to minimise the impact on the centre.

The Transport and Housing Bureau said it had been in close touch with the centre and was aware of its management's concerns. "In this respect, the government has instructed the MTR to take full account of the views of the centre when carrying out detailed design of the South Island Line," a spokesman said.
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Old September 4th, 2009, 06:01 AM   #12
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i like the place
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Old September 8th, 2009, 12:01 PM   #13
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Residents rail at South Island Line
7 September 2009
SCMP

Residents of Shouson Hill and Sham Wan Towers will start a campaign this week to persuade their Southern District neighbourhood to back them on a proposal that would put the entire South Island Line underground.

Designing Hong Kong, a group that has been helping the residents, filed an objection with the government against the MTR Corporation's design under which a section of the link between Nam Fung Road and Ap Lei Chau would be built as a viaduct.

A residents' group plans to send petition letters to every household in the district's major estates including South Horizons, Aberdeen Centre and Lei Tung Estate this week, urging them to also file complaints before the objection period ends on September 22.

Nelson Yeung, convenor of the residents' group, said that building the seven-kilometre extension that links South Horizons to Admiralty above-ground would not only spoil the district's scenery - especially the nearby nullah that is home to hundreds of egrets - but also bring noise and nuisance to the many who live near the rail line. That includes a hostel that caters for autistic and mentally ill people.

The arguments were put to MTR Corp and the government two years ago when the project was first approved by the Executive Council. Most of the residents and their respective district councillors had already given up hope after the MTR Corp said that changes would delay completion - scheduled for 2015 - by three years and add another HK$2 billion to the budget.

Moving the rail section underground would also mean closure of up to two-thirds of the Aberdeen Channel - an important passage for fishermen and a shelter for cruise boats - for three years. It would also require much larger-scale excavation in Wong Chuk Hang and push the new Wong Chuk Hang and Ocean Park stations deep underground.

But Yeung said the pain would be temporary. "There may be much nuisance during the construction period but, building it above ground, the nuisance will be permanent."

Paul Zimmerman, of Designing Hong Kong, said an above-ground Wong Chuk Hang station meant it was likely that the planned western part of the South Island Line would also have to be on a viaduct.

Their views, however, were backed by only two of the 21 Southern District councillors in a special meeting last Thursday.

Lam Kai-fai, a Southern District councillor whose constituency includes Lei Tung Estate, said he would be surprised if the new campaign changed anything.

"The people they are trying to persuade are those who actually travel to work by MTR. Three years of delay means a lot of inconvenience, but I bet many residents in Shouson Hill and Sham Wan Towers drive to work," he said.
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Old November 4th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #14
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Extra sites for universities just a start, says minister
22 October 2009
SCMP

The reserving of two small sites for private universities was just a start, the education minister said yesterday. More sites - and bigger ones - would be provided later, Michael Suen Ming-yeung said.

The decision to offer the sites in Wong Chuk Hang and Ho Man Tin, which the chief executive announced in his policy address last week, marked the start of government efforts to increase the city's supply of higher education places, Suen said on a radio programme.

He said he was confident Hong Kong had the experience and ability to develop a successful education service that would attract more overseas students. This would benefit the city economically and could broaden local students' outlook.

In his announcement last week, Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said the two sites were expected to provide places for 4,000 students. Suen admitted the sites were small but said that, even so, institutions with unique features could be built on them. He cited the example of Lingnan University. The liberal arts university operates on a compact campus in Tuen Mun.

"We need diversity in education provision," he said, and private universities could provide that.

Suen said that promoting education services might not immediately benefit for the labour market, but would give local students the chance to learn from overseas students.

"It would, of course, be desirable to study overseas to be exposed to other cultures, but not all can afford this," Suen said. Those who could not afford an overseas education could still benefit from interactions with students from overseas.

Meanwhile, he gave a progress report on the so-called fine-tuning of policy on the language secondary schools teach in - which does away with the division of schools into those teaching in English and those that use Chinese. The minister told a Tung Wah Group of Hospitals lunch that most schools had submitted their plans regarding which language to use for which pupils.

Most schools had justifiably chosen to teach in English or Chinese according to their students' ability and with an eye to the cohesiveness of academic programmes, Suen said. And the bureau had a mechanism to deal with those that had made dubious choices, such as deciding to teach in English when pupils were not competent in the language.

Task forces would be set up to advise such schools, he said. The schools would have until May to decide whether to follow the bureau's advice and to tell the families of potential Form One pupils of their decision.

If the schools did not take the bureau's advice, it reserved the right to send in inspectors to help them evaluate their performance and suggest what they needed to do to raise teaching quality.

Egregious cases of schools choosing the wrong language to teach in would be made public, he said.
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Old January 28th, 2010, 05:37 PM   #15
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HK can become medical-tourism hub
13 November 2009
China Daily - Hong Kong Edition

The standard of the Hong Kong medical services is at the forefront of the region.

In some specialized disciplines, Hong Kong is even at the world's pinnacle, said Dr. Kwong Kwok-hay, deputy medical superintendent of Hong Kong Sanatorium & Hospital (HKSH), which is one of the largest private hospitals in the territory located in the up-market Happy Valley district.

By employing these strengths, he said Hong Kong is in a very good position to become a medical tourism hub for people from the region and other countries to obtain medical services in the city.

"Hong Kong excels in the research and treatment of several areas such as liver transplantation, treatment of tumors, nasopharyngeal carcinoma and percutaneous coronary intervention," Kwong told China Daily.

"The reason is that there are many patients of these types in Hong Kong, prompting us to do more research in these areas and gaining far greater experience from treating such patients."

But given the high rent, operating cost and doctors' fees in Hong Kong, he said the city should focus on the above-mentioned high-end medical services, instead of such low-end services as general physical checkups and facelift services.

"It is said that some mainland people are becoming very well off. Like other wealthy people in the region, they can afford to pay for the medical services while staying in Hong Kong for two to three days," he said.

Earlier on, the Task Force on Economic Challenges identified six key economic areas in which Hong Kong enjoys a competitive edge, with education and medical services being two of them.

To advance the six industries, the government has decided to provide land for interested parties to build private hospitals and universities.

As far as the medical services sector is concerned, four sites in Wong Chuk Hang, Tseung Kwan O, Taipo and Lantau Island, respectively, are on tender for the purpose of building private hospitals.

In the hope of expanding its services, the HKSH intends to build a second 38-storey tower on its present site.

However, its plan was rejected and then rejected again on appeal by the Town Planning Board, who ruled that the new building should be no higher than 12 floors.

The HKSH is now awaiting the outcome of the judicial review action scheduled for January 2010, he said.

In the meantime, the HKSH has looked at the four sites, with a view to building a new hospital on one of them.

"The sites are far too remote from downtown," he pointed out. "As most of the HKSH doctors have clinics in Central district, live near here and their children are studying in this vicinity, you can't expect them to go to work in Taipo or on Lantau Island."

Located in the southern part of Hong Kong Island, the Wong Chuk Hang site is slightly more convenient than the other sites. At one stage, the HKSH had expressed an interest in it and commissioned a feasibility study of the site.

"It however turns out to be an infeasible site because it will be crossed by the future South Island Line rail link and be subject to a great deal of noise. It will involve a much bigger cost if we add on noise mitigation measures," he disclosed.

Since Hong Kong is in a shortage of private hospital beds, Kwong thinks it is a good idea to build more private hospitals to cater to the patients' needs. At present, there are no more than 4,000 private hospital beds, equivalent to merely 10 percent of the total number of hospital beds in Hong Kong.

The private hospitals in Hong Kong are always filled by local people, leaving very few beds available for the non-local people, he noted.

"As far as the private hospitals are concerned, the problem is not the lack of patients, but rather the shortage of beds," he complained. "And as we also do not have enough nurses, it is rather difficult to take the medical services sector forward in Hong Kong."

Kwong is nevertheless aware that sites are available in the urban areas for construction of private hospitals.

Among other things, he suggested old government hospitals that are under utilized may be redeveloped. Besides, the sites of secondary and primary schools that are closed due to insufficient students are suitable for construction of private hospitals.

Kwong went on to cite a number of problems the private hospitals are encountering in Hong Kong.

In case private hospitals want to bring doctors into Hong Kong from other countries, even if they are top-notch and well-known medical practitioners with strong expertise, they will need to wait for nearly a month before temporary licences are issued.

If the government and the medical schools of the two universities want to bring in doctors from overseas, the procedure is far easier and quicker, he noted.

Kwong also said that before 1997, doctors from the British Commonwealth countries of England, Australia and Canada could come to practise in Hong Kong without restriction.

But after the handover, doctors from those countries, even though they are top-notch doctors in their own right, have had to undergo examinations and assessments before they could practice in Hong Kong.

"This affects exchanges between our doctors and foreign doctors, as well as the standard of medical services in Hong Kong," he commented.
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Old February 6th, 2010, 04:14 PM   #16
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The appeal of industrial sites
27 January 2010
SCMP



Industrial property does not have the broad appeal of other property asset classes, but savvy investors are finding real opportunities for profitable trading at the small and large end of the market.

Among those in the know it is common to hold generally strong-yielding industrial assets for the future upside of redevelopment and repositioning when areas are rezoned for higher and better use. Indeed, many of today's developers earned their stripes by converting industrial sites and properties into large scale developments, typically offices and homes, for significant profits.

But the announcement by the government of the "industrial revitalisation scheme" late last year has helped bring the sector further into the spotlight.

There are more than 2,000 industrial buildings in Hong Kong with a total floor area in excess of 215 million square feet. At least 10.7 million sqft is vacant and/or under-utilised. These numbers indicate the significant opportunities available across the market, with the city fringe areas being the most sought after on the Island and Kowloon.

Kowloon East has been the hottest area with developers aggressively acquiring industrial property for redevelopment into office buildings for strata sale.

Interestingly, a number of large-space office users are among those considering the conversion of older industrial buildings into re-skinned, refurbished office space which allows for a single building use with the associated efficiencies and potential signage rights.

It is the intention of the government to speed up the gentrification of suburbs which are no longer relevant for industrial uses and are not "pleasant to the eye".

It is hard to quantify what effect the policy announcement had on transaction volumes in the fourth quarter. The overall sales market and also to a certain extent the leasing sector picked up significantly in the period, but this appeared to be more aligned to the more positive economic sentiment and continued low interest rates.

The industrial sector is a good bellwether of sentiment as this more closely follows the "real economy", particularly for Hong Kong which is so dependent on global trading volume and the fortunes of mainland exports and imports.

As we see it the biggest winners will be the en-bloc owners of buildings aged 15 years or more, and within precincts identified as "industrial", "commercial" or "OU(B)" (Other Uses - Business). Among these, sites which are close to the MTR and those with established infrastructure and amenities will be most highly valued. These qualities are crucial when it comes to outlying areas, because they enable owners or tenants to retain employees, a prerequisite to changing the use of a building from industrial to office use.

The rental rate available at the converted facilities will be higher than the previous industrial rents to cover the costs of refurbishment.

Hong Kong developers could also look to foreign markets where conversion is common, as opposed to demolition and redevelopment.

K Wah International Holdings adapted an old industrial building in Wong Chuk Hang named "The Factory" claiming it to be the world's first integration of comic book art with a building. Renowned Italian comic artist Mauro Marchesi tailored the "comic" features, and with his team hand-painted the facade of the factory conversion.

Our overall view of the industrial sector in Hong Kong this year is more of cautious optimism as the potential for damaging external factors is still apparent.

I am predicting a further 5 per cent increase in sale prices for strata property and en-bloc investment sales to remain about 7 per cent.

We see activity remaining robust and we expect more en-bloc deals in light of market participants getting a better understanding of the implications of the new policy measures allowing a more accurate prediction of fair value for the assets.

Darren Benson is a senior director of CB Richard Ellis' industrial and logistics services department







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Old February 6th, 2010, 10:05 PM   #17
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MTR station?? The station is at least 5 year away from opening.
In fact, it hasn't even started construction!!! Let see if this "Factory" thing can survive until the MTR opens, I highly doubt it.
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Old May 29th, 2010, 08:10 AM   #18
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Concerns over big MTR Corp housing estate
25 May 2010
South China Morning Post

The government and the MTR Corporation are proposing to build 4,700 private residential flats on the site of the former public Wong Chuk Hang Estate, but the project's proposed building height has been opposed by district councillors there.

At the Southern District Council meeting yesterday, the MTR Corp's senior town planning manager, Rebecca Wong Chun-wun, told councillors that the corporation planned to construct 14 residential buildings on the 7.2-hectare site.

The flats will be an average of about 820 sq ft, the majority of them small to medium-sized units and 20 per cent sized about 540 sq ft.

The suggested building height was between 120 metres and 156 metres above sea level.

"Eight of the buildings will be taller than 140 metres, which will be higher than all of the buildings in Wong Chuk Hang {hellip} and exceed the height restriction of 120 metres to 140 metres," district councillor Tsui Yuen-wa said, voicing his concern about the project creating a wall effect in the district.

He was joined by other councillors who also questioned if the development plan would cause travel congestion in the area.

The proposed project will also include a railway station on the South Island Line, which is expected to be completed in 2015, a public transport interchange, a railway depot and a shopping centre with a gross floor area of 505,908 sq ft.

With a total gross floor area of 3,848,130 sq ft for residential use, the plot ratio will be 4.98, lower than the average of five to 10 times in the district, which is in the southern part of Hong Kong Island.

The plot ratio for non-residential areas is set at 1.7.

Maisie Cheng Mei-sze, deputy secretary for transport and housing, said four of the towers located near Brick Hill (also known as Nam Long Shan) would be higher and those nearer the sea would be shorter as it would look better if the buildings were not of the same height.

Cheng added that the apartments would house about 15,000 people.

Noting that the first batch of residential flats would only be available in 2018, Steve Yiu Chin, MTR Corp's head of town planning, said that a certain number of residents would be needed to support the railway line.

The councillors also hoped the project would also include public facilities, such as a large theatre and a swimming pool, for all residents of Southern District.

Most former residents were rehoused at Shek Pai Wan Estate.
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Old August 2nd, 2010, 05:42 PM   #19
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Opinion : MTR could choose underground option at Wong Chuk Hang
3 July 2010
South China Morning Post

The MTR Corporation's South Island Line is still mired in some controversy.

I am not aware if the problems have been fully resolved, particularly in relation to the Wong Chuk Hang station.

Originally the MTR proposed that this section of the route should be above ground, or in this case, above a nullah.

There has been widespread condemnation of this proposal, as it will have a horrible environmental impact.

The bank above the nullah is beautifully wooded and provides a green lung in contrast to the parallel flyover, which is arguably one of the ugliest parts of Hong Kong Island.

Sandwiching much of Wong Chuk Hang between the flyover and an MTR viaduct would be a brutal thing to do.

Concern groups and interested parties have voiced their objections.

Independent engineers have produced a report that suggests that going underground would not only resolve the environmental issues but would avoid disruption of the sensitive drainage patterns in the area.

It would also avoid conflict with the main power lines that run in parallel. Going underground would not extend the line's construction period or increase costs.

The government gazetted amendments on June 4. It said the east and west lines would now be combined into one viaduct at a lower level; however, no visuals have been provided, and the layout plan is suitably vague.

I may be wrong in this, but it seems that the MTR has made minor concessions at the public's expense (there will no longer be a cross-platform interchange at Wong Chuk Hang station) and then quietly put the major issues to one side, possibly in the hope that they might just go away.

No forum for further discussion has been proposed, and the MTR's Q&A section makes no comment on an issue that has already created many objections.

It would be a terrible shame if, when the final plans become known, there will have been no serious change considered but instead there are attempts to bully us into acceptance because to object would delay the work further.

I would be very grateful if the MTR Corp could reassure us that this matter is being resolved in the interests of our environment and not just its own convenience.

John Dainton, Pok Fu Lam
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Old December 25th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #20
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Chinese medicine hospital planned
28 October 2010
SCMP

Baptist University plans to build a Chinese medicine teaching hospital providing the first inpatient treatment in this field in the city.

The plan to build the HK$800 million hospital with 200 beds was unveiled by the university's president, Albert Chan Sun-chi, yesterday.

Chan, a Chinese medicine expert, said the private non-profit hospital would be a boon for chronically ill patients. "There are just outpatient Chinese medicine services now," he said. "For chronically ill patients - like those suffering from cancer who need to be under doctors' observation for several days - there's nowhere to turn to now."

Under the plan, the hospital will specialise in clinical research and Chinese medicine services including hospice care. A dual approach combining Chinese and Western medicine will be adopted.

"There will be Western doctors there. A diagnosis made by both Western and Chinese doctors is better for patients. We can use [Western methods such as] blood-testing and MRI [magnetic resonance imaging] to identify the illness ... but the medicine will be Chinese [herbal]."

Chan said the government had expressed support for the plan.

"As a doctor himself, York Chow Yat-ngok, the secretary for food and health, has shown big support for the idea. The government guaranteed that they would buy a certain number of beds so as to subsidise the treatment of [needy] patients."

Baptist University has applied to use the land, which was formerly occupied by the Hong Kong Institute of Vocational Education (Lee Wai Lee) and is located next to the university in Kowloon Tong.

Chan said if the university was granted use of the land, work on the 16,500 square metre hospital could begin immediately and would take one to two years.

But the vice-president of administration, Andy Lee Shiu-chuen, said that if the land was not granted, the university would submit tenders for two of the four pieces of land earmarked by the government for private hospitals.

The four sites offered by the administration are in Wong Chuk Hang, Tung Chung, Tai Po and Tseung Kwan O. "We are interested in Wong Chuk Hang and Tai Po," he said.

Three universities - Baptist University, the University of Hong Kong and the Chinese University of Hong Kong - offer Chinese medicine training. But without a Chinese medicine hospital, students have to go across the border for placements. Chan said the current practice was untenable.

"Hong Kong and the mainland medical regulations are different ... In mainland hospitals, Chinese medicine [doctors] can slice open [the chests of] patients in heart bypass [surgery]. But it's not allowed in Hong Kong."

With patients at Baptist University's 11 outpatient Chinese medicine clinics having to wait more than a month for appointments, Chan said there was a big demand for Chinese medicine services in the city.

"Many mainland hospitals have approached us with the idea of a joint hospital," Chan said.

"But we want to build it in Hong Kong. With its strict medical laws, there are good oversight and quality assurance systems here. We want the hospital to operate according to local laws."
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