Heritage Conservation

Upon the transfer of heritage policy from HAB to DEVB, we have accorded priority attention to finalising an action-oriented package of measures to ensure we are better placed in preserving Hong Kong's heritage. These measures were recently endorsed by the Chief Executive in Council. Details are contained in the LegCo Brief issued on 10 October 2007.

These measures together with several heritage items announced in the CE's Policy Address will enable us to achieve the following objectives-

  1. in the Government domain, ensure that impact on heritage will be taken into account at the project inception stage by subjecting all public works projects (except maintenance) to Heritage Impact Assessment;
  2. revitalise historic buildings in public ownership by launching a Revitalising Historic Buildings through Partnership Scheme. A leaflet describing the Scheme for the purpose of engaging stakeholders and the public is at Annex 3. Together with the Hong Kong Jockey Club’s proposal for the Central Police Station Compound, a total of eight historic buildings will undergo adaptive re-use in one go;
  3. provide a framework to facilitate preservation of historic buildings in private ownership through suitable and acceptable economic incentives to be devised in full consultation with stakeholders;
  4. promote proper maintenance of historic buildings in private ownership by extending the present financial support scheme applicable to declared monuments to graded buildings subject to certain conditions;
  5. expand heritage conservation work beyond individual buildings by embarking on an area–based approach in the older parts of Wan Chai, preserving the Tai Yuen Street and Cross Street open air bazaars, re-examining the optimal use of the ex-Hollywood Road Married Police Quarters site (the former Central School site) and tasking the Urban Renewal Authority to do more in preserving pre-war buildings;
  6. provide a focal point to take forward heritage conservation work by setting up an Office of the Commissioner for Heritage under DEVB; and
  7. enhance resources in heritage conservation work by strengthening the Antiquities and Monuments Office in the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and setting up dedicated teams in the Architectural Services Department and Buildings Department to support the adaptive re-use of historic buildings.

Greening Work

We will continue our efforts on enhancing urban greenery and will actively implement Greening Master Plans (GMPs), which seek to define comprehensively the greening framework of selected districts with coherent themes and plant species to promote a clear district identity. Greening works in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui were completed in March 2007. Studies on the development of GMPs for Sheung Wan / Wan Chai / Causeway Bay and Mong Kok / Yau Ma Tei are in progress for completion by end-2007. The study for developing GMPs for the remaining areas on Hong Kong Island and in Kowloon has commenced in September 2007 for completion in early-2009. We also plan to commence studies of GMPs for the New Territories in mid-2009. In developing GMPs, we will continue to adopt an enhanced partnering approach which involves consultation with District Councils and local stakeholders at an early stage.

Apart from developing GMPs, we have implemented green roof top projects for new government buildings, which aims to help enhance cityscape, attenuate urban heat island effect and improve air quality. Since 2001, about 50 government buildings have already incorporated rooftop planting or flat roof landscaping while another 30 projects are under planning or construction. These include schools, office buildings, hospitals, community facilities and government quarters. Furthermore, another 20 projects for retrofitting green roof in existing government buildings have been identified for implementation in 2007/08.

Development Intensity

We understand the growing community aspirations for a better living environment and their calls for lower development intensity, less congested building layouts and more open space. To strike a balance between development needs and creating more open space and less densely built environment, we will progressively stipulate in Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) clear development restrictions, where justified, for all to follow. This will be done through the statutory town plan amendment process and concerned parties can voice their views on the proposed amendments. Among the some 50 OZPs which at present do not have such development restrictions, priority will be given to those covering areas subject to high development/redevelopment pressures, waterfront areas along Victoria Harbour and congested built-up areas.

For the property development projects at Nam Cheong and Yuen Long Stations along the West Rail, we will discuss with the railway corporations to formulate revised planning schemes, to be followed by consultation with the stakeholders and the community (such as the concerned District Councils) under the statutory town planning process. The exact reduction in development intensity will be site-specific, as each site has its own special features and surrounding environment. The railway corporations and the developers should be allowed to come up with better designs which can go some way towards addressing the public’s concern.

Quality City Environment

We plan to take forward a number of public works projects aiming to improve the quality of city environment. Firstly, we will develop a continuous cycle track of up to 60 km from Tuen Mun to Ma On Shan by 2012. Secondly, we will continue our efforts to upgrade substandard government slopes, with a view to dealing with all high-risk man-made slopes by 2010. Thereafter, we will devise an implementation strategy to systematically deal with the landslide risks from the natural hillside catchments with known hazards, in order to provide a sustainable slope safety environment for the community. Thirdly, we have commenced a feasibility study for completion in 2008 to enhance the local environment quality and the ecological value of the Yuen Long Town Nullahs. Finally, we will expedite the programme to complete the replacement and rehabilitation of some 3,000 km of water mains by 2015, in order to reduce the risk of water main bursts and the resulting disruption to the traffic and water supply.

Building Safety

We will introduce a minor works control system with a view to simplifying the statutory requirements and procedures for carrying out small-scale building works, such as the erection of supporting frames for air-conditioners and advertising signboards as well as the repair of windows and drainage pipes. A Working Group comprising representatives from the professional institutions, the Hong Kong Construction Association and the Minor Works Concern Group has been established to formulate the implementation details of the proposal. We have taken into account the views expressed by the stakeholders in finalising the legislative amendments. We plan to introduce the Buildings (Amendment) Bill into the LegCo by end 2007.

On the basis of the community consensus achieved through the two-stage public consultation on mandatory building inspection, we are proceeding with drafting the legislation on a mandatory building inspection scheme and a mandatory window inspection scheme. We will work closely with Panel Members on operational details of the proposed schemes. We strive to introduce the proposed legislation into the next term of the LegCo as early as possible.