We will continue to strengthen our work on harbourfront planning and implement harbourfront enhancement initiatives for public enjoyment. Harbourfront enhancement projects completed/to be completed in 2009 include the beautification works at Tai Wan Shan Park (Promenade), a waterfront park at Sheung Wan Gala Point and a 200-metre long waterfront promenade along the Kwun Tong Public Cargo Working Area. We will continue to identify and roll out new initiatives to enhance the harbourfront, such as the initial development of the Hung Hom Waterfront Promenade which will commence construction in early 2010 for completion in end 2010. We will continue to ensure that our planning, land use and urban design are in line with our stated mission to protect the Victoria Harbour and engage the public early from planning, design to development.
The history of Central witnessed the transformation of Hong Kong from a fishing village into Asia's World City. Today, Central is our administrative centre and home to many local, Mainland and international financial and business corporations. The CE has announced, in his 2009-10 Policy Address, innovative projects aiming at conserving Central for our future generations and taking this distinct area in Hong Kong to new heights. These projects follow CE's concept of Progressive Development. They build on Government's commitment on harbourfront enhancement and heritage conservation, and champion for more greening and connectivity. They will preserve many of our social, historical and architectural features in Central while adding new life and vibrancy to the area.
A total of eight specific projects as listed below are included in the Conserving Central initiative. An illustrative pamphlet is at Annex 2.
- New Central Harbourfront Sites 1 and 2
We will significantly reduce the development intensity of Sites 1 and 2 ("Comprehensive Development Area" and "Commercial" sites adjourning Central Piers 4 to 6 and International Finance Centre II) to improve viewing of our magnificent harbour, and redistributing the gross floor area to Site 5 (the Government, Institution or Community site north of CITIC Tower) as recommended by the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee. The revised design concept will feature a large landscaped deck connecting the Central Business District to the new harbourfront. Instead of commercial land sale for office/hotel uses, we will develop Sites 1 and 2 into a distinctive civic node and mixed use precinct featuring low-rise structures for exhibition, retail, entertainment, civic and community uses under public-private partnership for public enjoyment.
- Central Market
We will invite the URA to rehabilitate the Central Market and turn it into a "Central Oasis" to provide the much needed open space and greenery in busy Central for the enjoyment of all who work and live in the area as well as other members of the community. The new landmark will provide four levels of information-cum-leisure space with mega bookstores, eateries, sitting out areas, cyber information points, an arts event atrium and a roof garden providing some 1 000 square metres of public open space.
- Original Site of Central School (Also Former Police Married Quarters Site on Hollywood Road)
We will invite proposals from interested organisations or enterprises to convert and revitalise the site into a hub of creative industries with facilities such as exhibition galleries, art and design studios, office or shop space for various creative industry-related operations, education and training centre for creative industries, lodging for visiting artists, etc. The site will also include an exhibition centre of Central School and a display of the historical relics.
- Central Police Station Compound
Noting the views expressed by the public in the six-month public engagement exercise in 2007/2008, HKJC is actively working with its consultants on a revised design with a view to reducing the height and the bulk of the proposed new structure.
- Central Government Offices Complex
We have recently completed a heritage study on the Central Government Offices buildings. A copy of the Executive Summary, Conclusions and Recommendations of the Study is posted on the website of the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) (http://www.amo.gov.hk/). In the light of the recommendation of the Study that the Main Wing and the East Wing be preserved for appropriate adaptive re-use in a manner that is compatible with its original design and shows respect for its previous function as the seat of Government, the Administration has decided to allocate these two buildings to the Department of Justice for reprovisioning its current office in the Queensway Government Offices. The West Wing, which is of low historical and architectural significance, will be demolished to make way for commercial development. We shall develop part of its present footprint as a garden for preservation of the existing greenery. Appropriate height restriction and public access requirements will be imposed for any future development.
- Murray Building
Given its prime location in proximity to Peak Tram and Hong Kong Park and a great demand for high-end hotels in central locations, MB has high potential for conversion into a hotel. Such conversion is also an environmentally preferred option. We intend to dispose of MB through open tender, with the inclusion of conservation requirements in the tender conditions.
- Former French Mission Building
The Former French Mission Building (FFMB), which currently houses the Court of Final Appeal, will become vacant when the Court of Final Appeal moves to the Old Supreme Court Building after the Legislative Council is relocated to the Central Government Complex at Tamar by end 2011. We welcome ideas on the most suitable adaptive re-use of the FFMB, which is a declared monument, and intend to adopt an open process in taking forward the project.
- Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui Compound
The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH) proposes to redevelop their Compound in Lower Albert Road, Central to provide additional community services of a non-profit making nature. HKSKH will preserve all the four existing historic buildings, namely Bishop's House, St. Paul's Church, Former Church Guest House and Old Kei Yan Primary School, within the Compound.
Greening, Landscape and Tree Management
As recommended in the "Report of the Task Force on Tree Management – People, Trees, Harmony" (the Report) published on 29 June 2009, DEVB will take up the overall policy responsibility for greening, landscape and tree management. We plan to establish a Greening, Landscape and Tree Management (GLTM) Section in the Works Branch of DEVB, underpinned by a Greening and Landscape Office and a Tree Management Office, to facilitate the adoption of a holistic approach in the policy and implementation aspects of greening, landscape and tree management, to ensure more effective co-ordination across departments and to enhance professional and technical expertise in the management of trees. Under the steer of the proposed GLTM Section, departments concerned will improve tree risk assessment arrangements, step up training, and promote community involvement and public education.
We briefed the Development Panel at its meeting on 28 July 2009 on the recommendations in the Report and consulted Members on the establishment proposals for the setting up of the proposed GLTM Section. We plan to seek the approval of the Establishment Sub-committee and the Finance Committee shortly.
In the past year, we have made good progress on heritage conservation. In the Government domain –
- we have selected six applicants for the revitalisation of six government-owned historic buildings under Batch I of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (the Revitalisation Scheme). With the funding approval of the Finance Committee in July 2009, site works for the restoration of the Old Tai O Police Station as a heritage hotel will soon commence for completion by mid-2011. We will seek funding approval for the restoration of Fong Yuen Study Hall, Lai Chi Kok Hospital, Lui Seng Chun and Mei Ho House between October 2009 and June 2010. For North Kowloon Magistracy, which does not require funding support from Government, the restoration works are scheduled to commence in November 2009 for completion by August 2010;
- we launched Batch II of the Revitalisation Scheme in August 2009. Applications for the five buildings (i.e. Old Tai Po Police Station, Blue House Cluster, Former Fanling Magistracy, Old House at Wong Uk Village and Stone Houses) will close in end December 2009;
- since the announcement of the preliminary grading of 1 444 historic buildings proposed by AMO on 19 March 2009, about 560 responses (including verbal and written comments) have been received from the public and owners. AAB is now examining the preliminary grading as well as the feedback received with a view to confirming the final gradings of the first batch of historic buildings before the end of 2009. It will, where necessary, consult the Expert Panel again in the process; and
- in September 2009, we declared 41 pre-war waterworks structures located within six reservoirs (including Pok Fu Lam Reservoir, Wong Nai Chung Reservoir, Kowloon Reservoir, Aberdeen Reservoir, Shing Mun (Jubilee) Reservoir and Tai Tam Group of Reservoirs) as monuments under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance for permanent protection. To promote public enjoyment, the Water Supplies Department has at the same time created a waterworks heritage trail at Tai Tam.
In the private domain –
- following the launching of the Financial Assistance for Maintenance Scheme in August 2008, we have approved five applications and are now processing another six applications; and
- applying the policy on economic incentives to facilitate conservation of privately-owned historic buildings, the Chief Executive in Council approved in September 2009 the partial uplifting of the Pokfulam Moratorium as an economic incentive to facilitate the development of Jessville, a Grade 3 historic building. Under the "preservation-cum- development" approach, Jessville will be revitalised as a club house for the residents of the development and arrangements will be in place for public visits.
The Commissioner for Heritage's Office has launched a number of public engagement and publicity activities targeting at youths and students in 2009. We shall continue with these efforts. The theme activities in 2010 will be on community outreach, targeting at connecting built heritage at the district-based level.
Minor Works Delivery System
In view of the recent public concerns over the maintenance and repair works in Government buildings and facilities as many services to the public are provided from these premises, we have formed an inter-departmental Task Force to review the current minor works delivery system of works departments. The Task Force will look into the current system in respect of the mode of service delivery, project prioritisation and management, progress monitoring, quality control and enhancement of communications with clients and the public. Proposals will be formulated in due course to enhance the current delivery system for better efficiency and effectiveness.
The recent lift accidents have aroused much public concern over the need to enhance lift safety in Hong Kong. In this regard, we have implemented a multi-pronged package of improvement measures including the enhancement of Code of Practice for Lift Works, the improvement to lift maintenance service procurement, stepping up of inspections, enhancement of publicity and announcement of serious lift incidents since November last year. We will closely monitor the progress in the implementation of these various measures for improvement.
Separately, we have formed two Task Forces comprising representatives from the lift contractor associations and the workers' union to review the need to strengthen the statutory framework and drawn up a proposal to amend the Lifts and Escalators (Safety) Ordinance (Cap. 327). This includes the introduction of a registration system for lift and escalator workers, upgrading of the qualification requirement for lift and escalator engineers, review of penalty level and sanctions under the Ordinance, streamlining the procedure of disciplinary proceedings, issuance of notices for non-compliances and review of the format and display of safety label and certificates of periodic examination. We will carry out public consultation for three months starting in November 2009 with a view to early amendment of the Ordinance to enhance lift safety in Hong Kong.
Voluntary "Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme"
Fresh water is a scarce resource. From a sustainability perspective, water conservation is one of the fundamental elements to ensure a reliable and sufficient water supply to the people in Hong Kong. Against this backdrop, we launched a Total Water Management Strategy in 2008 with an aim to manage the demand and supply in an integrated, multi-sectoral and sustainable manner.
In regard to water demand management, we have stepped up public education on water conservation. Amongst others, we will implement a voluntary "Water Efficiency Labelling Scheme" (WELS) to promote awareness of the public in respect of the level of water consumption and efficiency of water-using fixtures and appliances. This will facilitate proper choice of water-efficient products by the public to promote water conservation. The WELS will be implemented in phases for different water-using fixtures and appliances. The first phase has been implemented since this year for bathing showers while the next phase will cover taps and washing machines for implementation in 2010.