Development Bureau's response to Society for Protection of the Harbour's press release

In response to the press release issued by the Society for Protection of the Harbour today (November 3), the Development Bureau made the following response:

The Society for Protection of the Harbour (the Society) said in its press release today that the suggested land uses of the New Central Harbourfront as announced by the government recently would lead to serious traffic congestion.  This is not true.  In its press release, the Society provided the data assumption used by the Transport Department in 2005 on the floor area that could be developed in the Central reclamation area.  Such data was used by the Department when conducting a traffic impact assessment for the Central reclamation area and Central-Wan Chai Bypass.  We have to point out that the assessment concluded that the capacity of the road network in the vicinity of the Central reclamation area would be sufficient to cope with the additional traffic flow brought by the new developments in the future.  

In fact, the gross floor area (GFA) in the latest design of the New Central Harbourfront is 41% lower than the data assumption in 2005.  Therefore, the road network is expected to bring even less traffic impact when compared with the original assessment.

We also noted that the Society has used a sketch showing “Reclamation Plans of Victoria Harbour” in its press release, which contains a lot of incorrect information.  For example, the plan on the sketch shows that the size of the reclamation for Wan Chai Development Phase II is 26 hectares when in fact the approved reclamation is 12.7 hectares.  In respect of the Central Reclamation Phase III, the scope of the reclamation has also decreased from 38 hectares to 18 hectares.  In addition, other reclamation plans depicted by the sketch have never been gazetted or have already lapsed, and the government will not pursue any more reclamation works on both sides of Victoria Harbour.

We understand that the public aspires for more open space.  We will provide 18 hectares of open space in the New Central Harbourfront.

In the Stage 2 Public Engagement for the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront, many of the public response we received indicated that the development density of Sites 1 and 2 should be further reduced. The Task Group on Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront of the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee (HEC) also held the same view.  Moreover, in view of the demand for Grade A offices and the needs of economic development in Hong Kong, the Task Group made a pragmatic recommendation of redistributing the commercial GFA in Sites 1 and 2 to Site 5. This recommendation has the overall support of the Task Group and the HEC. The Government has accepted this recommendation.

We will continue to protect, preserve and beautify the harbourfront for public enjoyment and will endeavour to strike a balance between providing quality space, which is a growing public concern, and relieving the shortage of office space in the city centre.

Ends/Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Issued at HKT 23:20