Following is a question by the Hon Alan Leong and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (May 4):
In approving the development plan of Wu Chung House, the Town Planning Board (TPB) required the developer of the building (the Developer) to construct a pedestrian walkway (the Walkway) at Wu Chung House across Queen's Road East and connecting Inland Lot No. 7781. Such requirement is also stipulated in the land lease conditions and the planning permission for Wu Chung House. However, since the completion and occupation of Wu Chung House in 1992, the Walkway has not yet been constructed. In reply to my question at the Council meeting on 20 April 2005, the Government pointed out that as the construction of the Walkway was proposed by the Developer who undertook to commence the construction works upon completion of the land exchange procedures for a large hotel project, it was therefore stipulated in the land lease that "The portion of the pedestrian walkway to be constructed across Queen's Road East to Inland Lot No. 7781 shall be completed within 12 months from the date of handover to the Grantee of Inland Lot No. 7781 by the Government". In this regard, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) in deciding to approve the development plan of Wu Chung House, whether TPB had considered the planning merits anticipated to be brought about by the completion of the Walkway, the improvements to the environment, pedestrian flow and road traffic, as well as other additional benefits to the local community;
(b) whether it has assessed if the Developer, after being granted the development right of Wu Chung House, may decide unilaterally to terminate or suspend discussions with the Government on the land exchange arrangements for the above hotel development project; whether the construction of the Walkway will be terminated or postponed as a result of the Developer's decision, and the Government's strategies for handling such situation; if it has, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that; and
(c) of the actions taken by the Buildings Department and relevant government departments, in issuing the occupation permit and certificate of compliance for Wu Chung House, to ensure that the scheme plan to develop Wu Chung House complied with all the requirements under section 16 of the Town Planning Ordinance, and whether they had consulted the Planning Department, the Lands Department and the Transport Department on the application; if they had, of the replies from those departments; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) The planning application for Wu Chung House development was approved by the Town Planning Board (TPB) with conditions on April 22, 1986. Revised proposals were further considered by TPB in 1987 and 1988. As part of the development scheme, the developer proposed an elevated footbridge system across Queen's Road East to IL7781. In considering the development scheme, TPB accepted the proposed footbridge system because the Board recognised that the system would reduce the need for pedestrians to cross Queen's Road East at ground level and hence facilitate separating pedestrian flow from that of vehicle.
(b) According to the lease conditions of Wu Chung House, the developer needs to construct the proposed footbridge upon the completion of the land exchange for a large hotel development; however, the land exchange itself has not yet materialised. Should the developer decide to defer or not to proceed with the large hotel development, the requirement to construct the footbridge would be postponed or fall away. As the land exchange for the large hotel development is being processed, Government has not devised a strategy on the assumption that the developer would withdraw the land exchange application regarding the large hotel development. It should be noted that the footbridge across Queen's Road East was proposed by the developer to cater for its nearby developments and the proposed hotel mentioned above and not a Government proposal.
(c) Under Section 16(1)(d) of the Buildings Ordinance, the Building Authority may refuse to approve any plans of building works where the carrying out of building works shown thereon would contravene any approved or draft plan prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance. In the processing of building plans of Wu Chung House, Buildings Department had consulted Planning Department to ensure that the building plans to develop Wu Chung House did not contravene the draft plan prepared under the Town Planning Ordinance.
In accordance with established procedures, upon receipt of the application for occupation permit for Wu Chung House, Buildings Department had informed Lands Department, who could then examine whether the lease conditions had been complied with. Buildings Department had not informed Transport Department and Planning Department as the processing of the occupation permit did not require input from the two departments.
Regarding the issue of Certificate of Compliance, although the planning approval for Wu Chung House development did not specify a completion date for the footbridge, it did require that the pedestrian circulation system and routings be to the satisfaction of the Highways Department. According to the lease of Wu Chung House, the developer needs to construct the proposed footbridge upon the completion of the land exchange for a large hotel development; the land exchange itself has not yet materialised. Before the Certificate of Compliance was issued, Lands Department had consulted Highways Department, the Registrar General, Drainage Services Department and Architectural Services Department in accordance with established procedures on the fulfilment of the obligations under the lease by the developer, and the departments gave positive confirmation in this regard.
Ends/Wednesday, May 4, 2005