Government's response to Society for Protection of the Harbour Limited's rezoning request

In response to media enquiries concerning the Society for Protection of the Harbour Limited's (SPH) proposal for Town Planning Board (TPB) to reconsider the land uses on Central District (Extension) Outline Zoning Plan (OZP), a Government spokesman said today (September 6):

"We note that the TPB has received a rezoning request from SPH on the Central District (Extension) OZP today. The Board will process the request in accordance with the existing town planning procedures.

However, irrespective of any request for changes in land use, the reclamation extent of Central Reclamation Phase III (CRIII) will not be affected as it is defined by the alignment of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass and the requirement for reprovisioning of facilities along the existing waterfront to the future shoreline to the north of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass.

Regarding the Road P2 network, we have repeated on various occasions that it is a dual-two lane surface road system which will be built on land formed for the Central-Wan Chai Bypass tunnel. Therefore, no additional reclamation is required.

The network comprises new roads linking up and enhancing the existing road network in Central and Wan Chai, with the aim to divert the traffic from the Hong Kong Station and One and Two International Financial Centre to Wan Chai North without going through the already saturated Connaught Road Central.

The Central-Wan Chai Bypass is the final and most vital road transport link missing on the northern shore of Hong Kong Island. It is needed to divert through traffic away from the Central business district, to cater for anticipated traffic growth beyond 2006 and to alleviate congestion on existing road networks (already operating at capacity) that feed into Central from the east and west.

If the Bypass is not built, congestion along the Connaught Road Central/Harbour Road/Gloucester Road Corridor will spill over into the neighbouring roads in Central and Wan Chai, eventually creating gridlock.

On the approved Central District (Extension) OZP, there is one site zoned for 'Comprehensive Development Area (CDA)' and four sites zoned for 'Other Specified Uses' annotated 'Waterfront Related Commercial and Leisure Uses'.

The 'CDA' will be a podium structure with low-rise pedestrian landscape deck on the east and the 'groundscraper' commercial developments on the west. The maximum building height for the landscape deck with commercial facilities below is 16mPD (about two storeys above road level) and that for the 'groundscraper' is 50mPD (about 10 storeys but stepping down towards the waterfront). Any future development of the site will require the approval of the TPB to ensure that it would comply with the planning intention.

For the 'OU' sites along the promenade, a height restriction ranging from 13mPD (about two storeys) to 25mPD (about four storeys) is imposed to ensure that there will only be low-rise structures compatible with the waterfront setting. These sites are intended for restaurants, cafeteria and shops, which are essential for the vibrancy of the waterfront.

Should there be any proposed amendments to the land use zoning in future, it would need to go through a statutory planning process and the public could submit objections under the provisions of the Town Planning Ordinance.

The Government reiterates that it is committed to enhancing the accessibility of the harbour-front with a view to creating a vibrant and attractive waterfront. The land formed by CRIII will provide a unique opportunity to create a vibrant, accessible waterfront. It should be noted that 9 hectares of the formed land under CRIII (i.e.50%) are zoned for open space.

Working together with the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee, other relevant bodies and members of the community, we will strive to ensure that the reclaimed land will be used for good urban planning."

Ends/Monday, September 6, 2004