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Phase II Public Engagement Exercise for Proposed Establishment of Harbourfront Authority launched (with video)

The Harbourfront Commission (HC) and the Development Bureau (DEVB) jointly launched the Phase II Public Engagement Exercise (PE) for the Proposed Establishment of a Harbourfront Authority (HFA) today (September 25) to gauge public views on the proposed detailed framework for the HFA. The PE will last for three months until December 24, 2014.

Speaking at a press conference today, the Chairman of the HC, Mr Nicholas Brooke, said,  “We consider that the proposal put forth would be able to deliver the intended objectives of the HFA and achieve the common vision of creating an attractive, vibrant, accessible and sustainable world-class asset.

"At the same time, we are mindful that it is not feasible for the HFA to take up and manage the entire 73-kilometre long Victoria harbourfront at the onset. We propose that the HFA should start modest and conservative.”
 
He said that under the above guiding principle, an incremental land allocation and development strategy is proposed to be adopted. Upon the establishment of the HFA, priority should be given to sites that are ready for development so that the HFA can immediately capitalise on its creativity and flexibility. The Government can consider allocating to the HFA newly reclaimed land and/or sites primarily zoned as open space that are available for development in phases over the next 5 to 10 years. These sites would include the New Central harbourfront, Wanchai - North Point harbourfront, Quarry Bay harbourfront, Kwun Tong harbourfront and Hung Hom harbourfront. When the HFA has accumulated adequate experience and built a good reputation, it can then consider taking up more available sites.

"Financially, taking into account public views as expressed in the Phase I PE, we propose that a dedicated fund be set aside within the Government that is roughly sufficient to cover the capital costs for the development of designated sites. The HFA may seek the Legislative Council's approval to draw resources from the dedicated fund when a project is ready for implementation," Mr Brooke said.

At the press conference, the Chairman of the HC's Core Group for Public Engagement, Mr Vincent Ng, elaborated on other details of the proposal.

"In addition to land allocation and financial arrangements, we would also like to seek public views on the vision, objectives and functions of the HFA. In particular, we propose that the HFA should have three major functions, which are governance and management, advisory, and advocacy and executive functions."

Mr Ng said that for the purpose of governance and management, it is proposed that the HFA should have a governing Board to oversee its operation. The Board should have broad-based representation comprising not more than 20 members, to be appointed by the CE on a personal basis. To ensure public accountability, all major requirements currently applicable to comparable statutory bodies should be introduced to the HFA to safeguard public interest.

On advisory functions, the HC should be disbanded upon the establishment of the HFA to avoid confusion or the perception of multi-layering. The HFA will take over the current advisory and advocacy role of the HC in relation to Victoria Harbourfront as a whole.

As for executive functions, it is proposed that during the initial years of its establishment, civil servants from relevant disciplines be seconded to the HFA to form a dedicated Government team to support its operation, to ensure that the HFA will be able to perform effectively right from the time of its establishment. Meanwhile, suitable talents from the private sector can also be recruited to assist the work of the team.

"Even though we have put forth a proposal for public consultation, it does not mean that we have already got the perfect answer for all the questions arising from harbourfront management. The proposal seeks to stimulate thoughts and discussions within the community and we welcome different views to be expressed throughout the consultation period," Mr Ng said.

In October 2012, the HC submitted a proposal to the Chief Executive (CE) for setting up a dedicated Authority to press ahead with harbourfront development in a holistic manner with an innovative mindset and a more flexible management approach. Subsequently, the HC and DEVB decided to launch a two-phase PE in October 2013.

The Phase I PE was conducted from October 2013 to January 2014 to seek public views on, among others, whether a HFA should be established. A total of 27 briefings were held for various stakeholders, including the Legislative Council (LegCo) Panel on Development, nine District Councils (DCs) with shoreline on Victoria Harbour, professional bodies, local and overseas chambers of commerce, think tanks and universities. Four public forums were also included. The views collected in the Phase I PE indicated that there was general support for the establishment of a dedicated Authority, though there were different views on the exact model to be adopted. Taking into account the views received, the HC and DEVB drew up a detailed framework for further discussion in Phase II PE.

Members of the public are invited to express their views through various channels on or before December 24, 2014. The HC and DEVB will organise public forums and briefing sessions to solicit views. As part of the Phase II PE, the HC, with the support of nine DCs with shorelines on Victoria Harbour, also launched the "My Victoria Harbourfront Mini-movie Competition" today. Interested members of the public can join the competition until November 24, 2014.

For details about the Phase II PE, please visit the HFC website: www.hfc.org.hk/hape.


Ends/Thursday, September 25, 2014
Issued at HKT 18:26

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