Following is a question by the Hon Chan Yuen-han and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 1):
Regarding the preservation of the ridgelines and the views of Victoria Harbour, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) when it will publish the results of the consultation conducted by the Planning Department a few months ago on the building height restrictions for coastal areas along Victoria Harbour, and whether it will enforce, by way of legislation, the height limits resulting from the consultation; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) whether the authorities conducted the consultation exercises on the building height restrictions for all the selected areas concurrently or set different consultation periods for individual selected areas; if the latter mode of consultation was adopted, of the reasons and justifications for that; and
(c) for those lots the land leases of which did not include any building height restrictions, whether the authorities have taken remedial measures to restrict the height of buildings which are being and will be built on such lots, so as to avoid such buildings damaging the ridgelines in the vicinity; if they have, of the details; if not, the reasons for that?
The following is my reply to the three parts of the question -
(a) The Hon Chan Yuen-han asked about Planning Department's ("PlanD") consultation conducted a few months ago. I understand that this should refer to the public consultation on the building height restrictions for the Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay business areas conducted between May and July this year for the purpose of implementing the Urban Design Guidelines for Hong Kong. Temporary restrictions on building heights in the two areas were imposed at the same time. Majority of the public views received during the consultation period supported the incorporation of building height restrictions into the statutory outline zoning plans ("OZP") in order to preserve the ridgelines and to enhance the appearance of the business areas. Results of the public consultation were reported to the Town Planning Board ("TPB") on 12 November 2004. At that meeting, the TPB agreed to incorporate the proposed building height restrictions into the Kwun Tong (South) and Ngau Tau Kok & Kowloon Bay OZPs. The corresponding amendments to the OZPs and the results of the public consultation will be announced in early 2005.
In the course of consultation on the Study on Urban Design Guidelines for Hong Kong in 2000, we explored whether building height restrictions for the purpose of preserving the ridgelines and view of Victoria Harbour should be enforced through legislation. At the time, most respondents agreed that a more direct and flexible way than the legislative approach was to incorporate building height restrictions into the statutory OZPs, as the public could participate in the process of preparing and amending the OZPs in accordance with the Town Planning Ordinance. The above-mentioned Study was discussed at the meeting of the LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works on 7 December 2001 and the approach of incorporating building height restrictions into OZPs was agreed.
(b) On part (b) of the question, given the differences in respect of land area, history, geographical environment, economic development and special features of individual districts, PlanD conducted consultation exercises on building height restrictions for selected individual areas. With a view to implementing the proposed building height restrictions in the Urban Design Guidelines for Hong Kong, PlanD has selected Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay as a pilot scheme because these two districts are adjacent to the harbour-front and are transforming into areas mainly for business developments. Under such circumstances, the planning brief including building height restrictions will need to be updated to provide guidelines for the transformation of these two areas. As a next step, PlanD will review the height restrictions laid down in the Kai Tak (South) and Kai Tak (North) OZPs.
(c) On part (c) of the question, even if building height restrictions are not included in land leases, the proposed developments still have to comply with the relevant requirements stipulated in relevant OZPs and the Buildings Ordinance. PlanD will regularly review the OZPs, with a view to deciding whether building height restrictions are needed.
Building height restrictions have been incorporated into 15 of the 21 OZPs along the harbour-front of Victoria Harbour. The TPB has agreed that height controls should be included in the appropriate OZPs to preserve the ridgelines and the view of Victoria Harbour. PlanD has accorded priority to the Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay business areas. The review of height controls under the Kai Tak (South) and Kai Tak (North) OZPs has commenced under the Kai Tak Planning Review.
Ends/Wednesday, December 1, 2004