Following is a question by the Hon Wilson Or and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Michael Wong, in the Legislative Council today (December 13):
The Government announced by notice published in the Gazette in March 2011 that the Chief Executive in Council had authorised under the law the construction works of an elevated walkway system in Kowloon Bay. The elevated walkway system aims to link up several buildings in the Kowloon Bay Industrial Area, Telford Gardens and the existing footbridge to the MTR Kowloon Bay Station. It has been reported that as the Government and the relevant developers failed to reach a consensus on the management and maintenance of the elevated walkway system after its completion, the works project, which was originally scheduled for completion in 2014, has not yet commenced to date. On the other hand, the Government indicated in the 2016 Policy Address that it would implement new policies for Kowloon East, including the introduction of a pilot scheme of waiving the land premium for lease modification to encourage landowners to construct footbridges or subways at their own cost in accordance with the planned pedestrian network. The pilot scheme was open to applications on February 2 this year. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) of the number of applications received to date by the authorities under the pilot scheme; the latest progress of such applications, and the number of applications which have been approved;
(2) whether the pilot scheme has now ceased to accept applications; if so, whether the authorities have plans to resume accepting applications; and
(3) whether it has plans to construct footbridges or subways by using public funds to link up the Kowloon Bay Business Area and the MTR Kowloon Bay Station?
To cater for the transformation of Kowloon East into Hong Kong's second core business district, the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) of the Development Bureau has been striving to create a walkable environment in the district. We carried out two feasibility studies on pedestrian environment improvement separately for the Kowloon Bay Business Area (KBBA) and the Kwun Tong Business Area (KTBA). The studies reviewed the existing pedestrian environment and traffic conditions, forecasted the future increase in traffic volume, and proposed a comprehensive improvement framework that includes improvement proposals in the short, medium and long term. The feasibility study for pedestrian environment improvement in KBBA was completed in August 2016, and the pedestrian link network proposed under the study has been incorporated into the Kowloon Bay Outline Development Plan (ODP). The study for KTBA will be completed within this year.
The 2016 Policy Address announced an incentive policy, with Kowloon East as a pilot area, to encourage the private sector to construct planned pedestrian links by way of waiving the land premium payable for lease modification for the provision of the pedestrian links. Private landowners may refer to the planned pedestrian link network shown on the ODP and submit applications to the District Lands Office/Kowloon East for lease modification to construct pedestrian links at their own costs and for waiving of the relevant land premium.
On the various parts of the question from Hon Wilson Or, the reply is as follows:
(1) Currently, six developers have submitted a joint application for lease modifications to construct an elevated walkway system, connecting seven commercial buildings in KBBA to make pedestrian movements between the MTR Kowloon Bay Station and KBBA more convenient. The application was submitted in September this year, and is under processing by the District Lands Office/Kowloon East. Besides, two other developers in Kowloon Bay have submitted preliminary proposals for constructing three footbridges.
(2) The pilot scheme in Kowloon East covers KBBA and KTBA. The Planning Department promulgated the latest Kowloon Bay ODP on February 2, this year. Relevant applications for lease modification should be submitted within three years after the promulgation of the ODP incorporating the pedestrian link network (i.e. on or before February 2, 2020). The pedestrian environment improvement study for KTBA will be completed within this year, and the planned pedestrian link network will also be incorporated into the relevant ODP. We plan to conduct a mid-term review of the policy in 2018 to assess its effectiveness.
(3) Apart from facilitating provision of pedestrian links by the private sector, the Government has plans to construct additional footbridges in KBBA and its vicinity. To relieve the congestion at the existing footbridge near MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit B and to enhance connectivity with the future East Kowloon Cultural Centre, EKEO has engaged the Highways Department to study the provision of an additional footbridge. The project was gazetted under the Roads (Works, Use and Compensation) Ordinance in November this year. We have also planned to provide an additional footbridge across Kwun Tong Road near MTR Kowloon Bay Station Exit A. In tandem, we have engaged the Highways Department to study the construction of another footbridge across Wai Yip Street near Siu Yip Street. The investigation study is in progress. The construction of the above three works projects is anticipated to commence progressively starting from the next two to three years, subject to the completion of the planning, investigation, design and relevant statutory procedures separately and obtaining funding approval smoothly from the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council.
Ends/Wednesday, December 13, 2017
Issued at HKT 15:28