SDEV's opening speech at "Place Making Forum - Experience Sharing on Business Improvement Areas" (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, today (October 16) at the "Place Making Forum - Experience Sharing on Business Improvement Areas" organised by the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) of the Development Bureau:

Professor (Greg) Clark, Anna (Molero), distinguished panellists, honourable guests, ladies and friends,

Welcome to Energizing Kowloon East. The moment I stepped into this office, I indeed felt energised and motivated and I hope you have felt the same. I can assure you after the seminar this afternoon, you can in addition to being energised, you would be able to see the vision of Hong Kong for this particular area.

Let me first of all share with you a few figures. You may already know that since the change of the zoning of this area from "Industrial" to "Other Use (Business)" back in 2001, the office space in Kowloon East has increased from 0.4 million square metres to 1.4 million square metres. We estimate that another 4 million square metres will be produced in the next 20 years, bringing the total new office supply from this area to 5.4 million square metres, which is twice the size of the office stock in Central. Latest figures from the Rating and Valuation Department showed that last year Kowloon East alone contributed about 45 per cent of new office supply in Hong Kong. We envisage such a high percentage share will sustain as it is estimated that about 30 per cent and more than 50 per cent of total new office supply in the coming two years, meaning 2012 and 2013 respectively, will be from Kowloon East. The momentum here is very clear. There are also many other positive signs from the market including the increasing number of sale and purchase transactions in the area and the increasing number of building plan submissions.

With the provision of many high-quality office buildings in this area, many larger establishments such as financial institutions, insurance companies and professional service firms are attracted to move out of the traditional CBD in Central to set up their offices here. I know some of you sitting here are the smart early movers.

Yet, with us here today are also businessmen and factory owners, like Dr Charles Yeung, who have been doing business in this area for a long time, possibly since the '60s and '70s. I'm sure they have a strong emotional link to this area, to the rich industrial heritage of Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay. Currently there are over 220 000 people working in Kowloon East with 25 000 companies, most of which are small- and medium-sized establishments (SMEs). Kowloon East is no doubt a vibrant and highly diversified area with deep roots and tremendous energy.

Since the announcement of the Energizing Kowloon East policy last year about this time, we have received a lot of positive feedback from the community. You are certainly among the most important stakeholders that we need to collaborate with. Without your support, our long-term target to facilitate the transformation of Kowloon East into Hong Kong's CBD2 will not succeed. I can see that this slogan "CBD2" has been used on at least four occasions in this area. There are at least four commercial buildings taking advantage of this particular branding, namely "Gateway to CBD2", "Waterfront @ CBD2", "Heart to CBD2" and "Hong Kong's CBD2". We welcome you to use this slogan "CBD2" and also our logo "Energizing Kowloon East" to give a continuous and collective branding effect to this whole area.

Apart from the private sector, a lot has also been done on the side of the Government to steer and to support this important initiative. A dedicated multi-disciplinary office was inaugurated in June this year: this particular office. I am sure you are all very familiar with the Head and the Deputy Head of this office. Just in case you don't know them - K K and Winnie. And also our young and energetic colleagues in the EKEO office. Through this multi-disciplinary team, we have collected many positive and workable suggestions from the community and have consolidated them into the Conceptual Master Plan version 2.0. This Conceptual Master Plan has embedded 10 main tasks which are the guiding actions to facilitate this urban transformation process. We would need your help to push ahead the 10 main tasks. We see good potential to try out this community-based co-operation, perhaps in the form of Business Improvement Areas, BIAs.

What are BIAs? How can BIAs be organised? How do BIAs function? Are there any overseas and local experiences for our reference? Let me leave these interesting questions to you for the time being. I'm sure you will find inspirations after listening to Professor Clark and Ms Molero, as well as our distinguished panellists. Their presentations and their sharing will be very thought-provoking.

As stated in the Conceptual Master Plan, the Government would work with all stakeholders to take forward the Energizing Kowloon East policy. We are also reviewing what can be done on the part of the Government to help revitalise the industrial areas into an area which keeps pace with the development of Hong Kong and our vision for this area. This seminar serves as a good starting point to explore and foster a closer community collaboration to build Hong Kong's "CBD2" here in Kowloon East.

Once again, I would like to give my sincere thanks to Professor Clark, Ms Anna Molero, our distinguished panellists, Dr Allan Zeman, Mr Gordon Ongley, Dr Charles Yeung and Mr Steven Ho for joining us this afternoon. I also wish to thank you all for your warm support to our office, as well as taking time out of your busy schedule to take part in this particular forum.

Thank you very much indeed and have a wonderful afternoon.

Ends/Tuesday, October 16, 2012
Issued at HKT 19:48