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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Planners seek North Point height limit Wall effect fear over tall-blocks ban
9 June 2007
South China Morning Post

The value of Hong Kong Island's biggest vacant waterfront site will be cut by about HK$4 billion under a Planning Department proposal to impose a 100-metre building height restriction across North Point.

The North Point Estate site, next to the ferry pier, is one of about 100 sites in the district that are facing the development restriction, amid increasing public concern over the adverse effects of high-density development, such as blocked air flow and reduced sunshine.

But the proposal, released yesterday, does not mention whether there would be a reduction in the plot ratio, which governs the amount of floor space developers are allowed to build on a site.

Town planners and architects, while welcoming the proposal, said imposing a height restriction alone would not stop construction of wall-like tower blocks on the North Point Estate site. They said the government should require air-ventilation assessments and detailed designs as a condition of sale to prevent the creation of a wall effect as developers maximise sea views.

Without the height reduction, developers could build 50-storey residential blocks on the 272,975 sq ft North Point Estate site. Under the proposal, buildings on the site will be limited to about 30 storeys. Surveyor Charles Chan Chiu-kwok said the site was worth HK$24.5 billion, or HK$9,000 per sq ft, without the restriction. But with the height cap, it would be worth about HK$20.4 billion, or HK$7,500 per sq ft.

According to his calculation, the government will lose HK$4.1 billion from the sale, 30 per cent of last year's total land sales income.

Mr Chan warned that lowering the height of buildings would not necessarily reduce the wall effect. "The new rule may create a wall effect as the buildings will get wider without lowering the maximum development density. The government and public have to weigh which one is more important."

The Housing Authority announced in 2000 that the estate would be redeveloped. The last tenants moved out in 2002 to allow its demolition.

Also in 2002, the authority decided to return the prime site to the government for sale for private residential development.

The plot ratio of the site could reach 10 under the Buildings Ordinance for private housing. This would provide a total gross floor area of 2,729,750 sq ft, similar to the total floor area of the two office blocks of the International Finance Centre.

Vincent Ng Wing-shun, former president of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, expressed concern about wall-effect buildings.

"Developers have a tendency to maximise sea-view units. They must make sure no towers will be blocking the sea view of the other towers, so the outcome will be the buildings will be in a line, creating a wall effect."

The Planning Department has speeded up the process of imposing development controls across the city since last year. Kowloon Tong, The Peak, Happy Valley and Quarry Bay have seen restrictions imposed.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
North Point project faces height limits
4 July 2007
South China Morning Post

A New World Development project in North Point has shown that obtaining building approval is not a guarantee that the redevelopment potential of a new site is assured, according to surveyors.

In May, New World won approval from the Buildings Department for its joint-venture project at New Eastern Terrace, a few weeks before the Planning Department's new height restrictions in North Point began last month, but surveyors said the developer could be forced to follow the revised rules.

This is because the land lease of the site is not unrestricted.

New World teamed up with developer Hip Shing Hong to buy old buildings at New Eastern Terrace for HK$650 million in December last year and planned to knock down the buildings and redevelop the site into a luxury residential project.

The developers won approval from the Buildings Department in May to build two 33-storey and 35-storey residential buildings above five podium levels.

This is about three storeys over the height limit granted by the Planning Department.

Last month, the department proposed setting building height restrictions in North Point.

The site at New Eastern Terrace was restricted to 140 metres. This meant the scheme submitted under the approved building plan would exceed the height limit by about three storeys.

According to the land leases, the sites were restricted to building heights of 40 and 45 metres for many years. Surveyors said New World and Hip Shing Hong had to apply for modification of the land leases to relax the restriction, irrespective of whether the Town Planning Board had set the 140-metre building limit.

"The Lands Department will follow the provision of the Planning Department," said Lau Chun-kong, an international director of Jones Lang LaSalle.

"Once the developer applies to modify a lease for a relaxation, the Lands Department will impose a building height restriction on that lease," Mr Lau said

He said the building plans of the sites could not fully safeguard the development potential from restrictions imposed by the government.

If the developers fail to convince the Town Planning Board to relax the height restriction, he believes they would be forced to cut the building height.

"The higher the building the higher the price a developer can fetch," Mr Lau said.

"The value of the project would decrease by 2 per cent to 3 per cent if the developer cuts back on the building height."

The Planning Department has quickened the process of imposing development restrictions in Hong Kong in order to retain the character of the living environment and avoid over-development.

Urban areas including Kowloon Tong, Quarry Bay, Happy Valley and the Peak have had restrictions imposed.

Developers have also fast-tracked projects to safeguard their development potential even though they have not acquired full ownership of the sites.

The land leases of old buildings in Seymour Road in Mid-Levels, acquired by Swire Properties and Emperor Investment, are unrestricted.

Mr Lau said New World Development's case showed that developers could face a higher development risk over acquisitions of sites with restricted leases.

"Developers will have reservations concerning sites with similar land lease terms," he said.
 

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Hrmm....I was reading an architectural blog written by an architect and critic of residential buildings. His article was in Vietnam but he had extensive photo coverage of the building styles being practiced there. They are keen on row houses, typically 4 stories no elevator access but colorful intricate design and absolutely no conservative duplicates. These houses are constructed wall to wall and are very slim, though very popular.

He has done studies of population density and quality of life within row-house districts and the new Taiwan Tower "gardens" they constructed for Vietnam (and higher rents in the towers) and found that the Tall Towers do not necessarily save space or hold a greater number of people.

He says that the rowhouse coupled with the dots of parks and trees and interesting low traffic streets provide an excellent alternative to the huge mega tower complexes.

Maybe like old Beijing and Shanghai with its really interesting medieval roofs and puzzle like design of their residendencies could be somehow mimics here in HK??
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Island Lodge set for launch Swire to market North Point residential project in September
25 July 2007
South China Morning Post

Island Lodge, a North Point residential development due for completion in early 2009, will be marketed in September, according to co-developers Swire Properties and China Motor Bus.

The 45-storey, 184-unit project offers apartments that range in size from 800 square feet to 1,200 sq ft. About 40 per cent are two-bedroom units, while most have three- or four-bedroom layouts.

There is also an undisclosed number of larger units of between 1,500 sq ft and 2,200 sq ft on the top floors of the development.

Swire Properties would not disclose target prices, but senior sales manager Mabelle Ma said the latest prices in two developments - The Orchards in Quarry Bay and Les Saisons in Sai Wan Ho - could provide an indicator.

According to data from Centaline Property Agency, units in The Orchards sold for prices ranging from HK$6,793 to HK$8,300 per square foot.

La Place de Victoria is the most recent development in North Point.

Danny Ho, district sales director of Centaline Property Agency, said prices of typical units without a sea view at the project ranged from HK$5,460 to HK$6,500 per square foot.

Units with sea views reached HK$15,000 per square foot when the project was launched in 2005.

Island Lodge is the latest residential project developed by Swire Properties after the developer launched The Orchards in 2003.

It is located on the site of the former staff quarters of China Motor Bus at the junction of Java Road and Kam Hong Street and is a three-minute walk from the North Point MTR station.

In a departure from the current development trend, the project adopts a floor-to-ceiling window in the living room instead of a balcony.

The building height was set at 160 metres and since the Town Planning Board has imposed a 100-metre building height restriction on the former North Point Estate site in front of Island Lodge, only upper level units in the development will have harbour views after the completion of the North Point Estate redevelopment project.

The development will be the only new project in North Point released this year.

A residential project at Wo Fung Street in Sai Ying Pun, developed by Pacific Century Premium Developments, will be another medium-range development released on Hong Kong Island this year.

Transactions in North Point had been active in the last few weeks, said Andy Chuang, director of Ricacorp Properties. He said Provident Centre and City Garden remained the most popular housing estates in the district.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
油街地須加通風設施
11/08/2007
太陽報



市場估值達60億元的北角油街地王,昨獲城規會通過修訂規劃大綱,成為勾地表內首幅加入空氣流通評估指引的地皮。據了解,地政總署會隨即制訂該地皮出售章程,並將大綱的部分要點例如高度限制及地積比率等納入章程內,並預期年內可供發展商申請試勾。

城規會發言人稱,該會贊成為油街地皮加入通風廊等設施,規劃大綱獲通過後,日後投得地皮的發展商,須遞交發展大綱藍圖;至於空氣流通評估及建議加設的三條通風廊會作為指引,發展商日後亦可向該會提交更佳建議。

油街商住地面積約12.59萬方呎,地積比率8.6倍,總樓面約75.56萬方呎,高度限制分兩級,為100米及120米。

華懋西貢兩地合併觸礁另外,新地的西貢西沙十四鄉大型住宅項目獲准縮減發展規模,佔地減約16萬方呎,至806萬方呎,住宅樓面減至482.9萬方呎,單位量減798伙,至 4,630伙。另華懋未能成功將西貢金碧小築及銀輝小築之間的道路等改劃住宅(丙類)6用途,令兩地合併重建計劃泡湯。

此外,為回應社會對保護樹木的訴求,地政總署剛公布的最新作業備考,要求發展商遞交有關項目的規劃及設計前,需同時就地盤內的樹木進行評估,以及斬樹或移植樹木前亦需向政府申請,否則日後可能被罰款、或不批出預售樓花同意書等。
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Planners demand wind corridorsat Oil Street development site
11 August 2007
South China Morning Post

The waterfront site of the former government supplies depot in Oil Street must have three wind corridors to avoid a wall effect and improve ventilation in the area, the Town Planning Board said yesterday.

The board's metro planning committee accepted the Planning Department's brief for the North Point site after considering its air-ventilation study report.

The report suggested three parallel wind corridors - along Oil Street, in the middle part of the site from Electric Road to the harbour front, and along the northeastern boundary of the site. The department also said tree planting should be considered along Oil Street to reduce strong onshore winds.

The committee's vice-chairman, Greg Wong Chak-yan, suggested allowing developers to build footbridges linking blocks at the site, which is permitted to have a maximum gross floor area of 70,200 square metres.

"It is not necessary to have footbridges on each floor, but perhaps on four to five floors," he said.

Chief town planner Phyllis Li Chi-miu said it was feasible to have footbridges.

"If the footbridges are high enough, they will not affect ventilation in the area," she said.

Eastern District Council vice-chairman Wong Kwok-hing said three wind corridors were enough but they should not be all in the same direction.

Dr Wong said it would be better for the Lands Department to stipulate the width of the wind corridors in the lease.

But committee member Maggie Chan Man-ki said setting width restrictions would make it less flexible for potential developers.

Lands Department assistant director James Merritt said the lease would neither show the wind corridors nor require an air-ventilation study.

But any master layout plan of the site that developers submit to the metro planning committee for approval must comply with the planning brief endorsed yesterday.

The height restrictions of the site are 100 metres for commercial buildings closest to the harbour and 120 metres for residential buildings on the landward side of the site.
 
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