LCQ9: Construction of buildings within harbourfront areas

Following is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (April 14):


I have learnt that the authorities have indicated earlier that they hope to reduce the number of operators in the New Yau Ma Tei Public Cargo Working Area (PCWA) through "natural wastage" (i.e. by not inviting tenders for the business concerned after the operators closed down their business), in order to reduce the area of PCWA, and they plan to ultimately develop PCWA into a harbourfront green belt. In his Policy Address delivered on October 15, 2008, the Chief Executive proposed to beautify the harbourfront, study the feasibility of conducting medium and long-term re-planning of the harbour, improve the accessibility of the harbourfront and, in consultation with District Councils, proceed with the construction of waterfront promenades. Moreover, the Secretary for Development has indicated on a number of occasions that the relocation of the public facilities within the harbourfront areas is under review. Yet, I have learnt that in September last year, the authorities approved a project of the Marine Department to construct a control centre at PCWA, and the authorities had never accounted for the project details at any meeting of this Council beforehand. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) what government departments and other organisations the Marine Department had consulted in relation to the project to construct the control centre, and whether it had received any objection or other comments during the consultation process; if so, of the contents of the comments;

(b) given that the authorities have earlier decided to move the relevant government facilities inward, so as to tie in with the development of a waterfront promenade in To Kwa Wan, of the principles which at present have to be met by projects of government departments to construct buildings within the harbourfront areas, in order to prevent the buildings from impeding efforts to beautify the harbourfront; whether there is any guideline specifying that government departments have to consult District Councils and other organisations in the respective districts in putting forward the construction projects concerned;

(c) of the respective numbers of operators which closed down their business in PCWA in each of the past three years; whether the authorities had invited tenders again for the business concerned; if so, of the number of new operators which have joined as well as the total number of operators at present;

(d) given that I have learnt that the aforesaid control centre will be involved in the management and operation of PCWA, whether the authorities have assessed if the construction of the control centre has violated the original intention of reducing the number of operators through "natural wastage" and reducing the area of PCWA as they have indicated earlier, as well as hampered PCWA's development into a harbourfront green belt; if an assessment has been conducted, of the outcome;

(e) whether the authorities had, in the past three years, assessed the impact of the construction of the aforesaid control centre on the development of a waterfront promenade connecting the Tai Kok Tsui area and the West Kowloon Cultural District, and whether they had considered dovetailing the existing development plan with the future development of a waterfront promenade; if they had, of the details; and

(f) apart from the aforesaid construction project, of the respective numbers of projects approved by the authorities in each of the past three years for government departments and private developers to construct buildings within the harbourfront areas, as well as their details?



The Government has no plans at present to reduce the number of operators in the New Yau Ma Tei PCWA through "natural wastage".  Regarding the Marine Department's proposed construction of the Harbour Patrol Section control centre on Hoi Fai Road, Tai Kok Tsui and other related issues, the information/reply provided by the Marine Department and relevant departments is set out as follows:

(a) To alleviate the shortage of working space and to enhance its port control capability, the Marine Department plans to construct a two-storey building of about 15 metres in height as a control centre on a piece of government land of about 320 square metres, adjacent to the existing office of the Harbour Patrol Section on Hoi Fai Road, Tai Kok Tsui. The Marine Department has conducted consultation in accordance with the established procedures of land allocation and minor works projects.  Consulted Government departments included the Transport and Housing Bureau which is responsible for the housekeeping of the Marine Department, as well as the Planning Department, the Lands Department, the Development Bureau and other departments concerned.  Externally, the Marine Department has conducted district consultation through the Yau Tsim Mong District Office.  The targets of consultation included the District Council members of the concerned constituency, the relevant Area Committee and the relevant building management organisation in the vicinity. The building management organisation raised an objection which was withdrawn after explanation from the Marine Department.

Separately, in May last year, the Marine Department consulted the Sub-committee on Harbour Plan Review under the former Harbour-front Enhancement Committee (HEC, tenure of which expired at end-February this year). The Sub-committee asked for more information on the site selection and mitigation measures etc. It also suggested adopting measures to improve the pedestrian access along the typhoon shelter and landscaping the site. The Marine Department plans to consult the Yau Tsim Mong District Council upon completion of the detailed design of the port control centre. The Marine Department will proceed with seeking other approvals as required after the design is finalised and the consultation is completed.

(b) As to whether a Government facility could be allocated a harbourfront site, the Administration will have to consider the operational needs (such as whether a harbourfront location is essential), the HEC's Harbour Planning Principles and Harbour Planning Guidelines, the urban design guidelines for the planning of the waterfront under the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines, the planning intentions of the sites stipulated on the relevant statutory plans, and views of the Government departments and local community (including District Council members), and assess on relevant factors such as land use, visual impact and accessibility of the harbourfront areas. For those Government facilities necessary to be located at the harbourfront, the impact on the public will be minimised as far as practicable while achieving harbourfront enhancement. For example, the proposed structures may be set back to allow for a waterfront promenade; pedestrian linkages to the waterfront may be provided around the structures concerned; elements of harbourfront enhancement may be included in the design, such as facade beautification; and landscaping works complement with the waterfront environment.

The Government has issued internal guidelines for departments to seek the views of HEC on the planning and construction of waterfront facilities, and to consult the relevant District Councils on development proposals.

(c) The New Yau Ma Tei PCWA is the busiest public cargo working area in Hong Kong. In the past three years, one operator ceased operation in mid-2009.  No tender exercise was conducted in respect of that vacant berth.  At present, there are 28 operators in the public cargo working area.

(d) The control centre in question is required to support the routine operations of the Harbour Patrol Section of the Marine Department.  Such operations include marine law enforcement, marine traffic regulation and the handling of marine accidents. The Section has not been and will not be involved in the management and operation of PCWAs. The Marine Department opines that the proposed site is most suitable for the operations of the control centre. As explained in the reply to part (b) above, the facility needs to be provided at the harbourfront due to operational needs.

(e) At present, the pedestrian footpath of Hoi Fai Road allows pedestrians to walk from Tai Kok Tsui southward to the New Yau Ma Tei PCWA. The site of the proposed control centre will not affect the use of the footpath.  We will continue to monitor the situation in assessing the feasibility of providing a waterfront promenade linking the Tai Kok Tsui area and the West Kowloon Cultural District.

(f) The harbourfront covers a large area of land and a large number of buildings. As this question is concerned with new buildings constructed in harbourfront areas, we have listed in the Appendix projects which have been granted/ allocated land in the past three years to construct new buildings in harbourfront areas.

Ends/Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Issued at HKT 16:41