Following is a question by the Hon Mrs Regina Ip and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Ms Bernadette Linn, in the Legislative Council today (February 8):
The Government proposed in the 2020 Policy Address to implement the Invigorating Island South (IIS) initiative, and submitted a financial proposal to the Finance Committee of this Council in March 2021 for the creation of one non-civil service position of Head of Invigorating Island South Office to be responsible for leading the Invigorating Island South Office (IISO) to take forward and implement the IIS initiative. The financial proposal was approved in June 2021. However, there are views pointing out that since the creation of the position was approved, a number of key projects of the IIS initiative have fallen through one after another, including the Board of the Ocean Park Corporation's indication that it would consider conducting a re-tendering exercise for the Ocean Park rebirth plan, the sinking of the Jumbo Floating Restaurant, and the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau's announcement in August last year that the tender for the development of a water sports complex at the Shek O Quarry Site had been cancelled, and it seems that the IISO is no longer able to implement the key projects proposed in the aforesaid Policy Address. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(1) whether the IISO has implemented any of the key projects proposed in the aforesaid Policy Address since the creation of the position was approved; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;
(2) whether the Development Bureau will set key performance indicators for the implementation of the IIS initiative; if so, of the details and implementation timetable; if not, the reasons for that; and
(3) whether the Government will consider deleting any position which is not necessary for the implementation of the IIS initiative?
The Invigorating Island South (IIS) initiative announced in the 2020 Policy Address proposed a series of key projects, reaping the enhanced connectivity with other districts after the commissioning of the MTR South Island Line, taking the opportunity brought by the large scale residential development to be completed in the area, and making good use of the blue-green resources in the Southern District, to develop the Southern District into a place for people to work, live, explore new ideas and have fun. The Development Bureau subsequently set up the Invigorating Island South Office (IISO) in 2021 to co-ordinate and implement various key projects, including enhancing the walking environment, waterfront areas, public spaces, leisure facilities and other community and tourism facilities in the Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau areas, exploring the enhancement of berthing and landing facilities in Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, expediting the transformation of old industrial buildings in Wong Chuk Hang, and exploring consolidation and redevelopment of public facilities to promote "single site, multiple uses", etc. The IISO is also responsible for co-ordinating the work on the 60-kilometre "Round-the-Island Trail" proposed in the 2022 Policy Address. The IISO also actively participates in projects led by other policy bureaux, which include assisting in taking forward the development projects under the future strategy for Ocean Park, and exploring the development of a water sports complex at the rehabilitated Shek O Quarry Site.
My reply to the three parts of the question, after consulting the relevant bureaux, is as follows:
(1) The IISO formulated the first Conceptual Master Plan (CMP) covering the IIS focus areas, i.e. the Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen and Ap Lei Chau areas, in August 2021 and consulted more than 30 stakeholder groups. After considering and incorporating the stakeholders' comments where appropriate, the CMP 2.0 was promulgated in March 2022, which covers the broad strategies, conceptual planning and ways of implementation (including quick-win measures and larger scale projects). The two CMPs can be downloaded from the Development Bureau's website (www.devb.gov.hk/en/issues_in_focus/invigorating_island_south_office/index.html ). The details on the implementation of the various key projects are as follows:
Enhancing pedestrian connectivity of the Wong Chuk Hang Business Area and the waterfront area nearby while improving the pedestrian environment along Shum Wan Road and Po Chong Wan
The IISO commissioned a consultancy study in December 2021 to formulate comprehensive pedestrian environment and traffic improvement proposals as well as waterfront and open space enhancement proposals to bring vibrancy to the Wong Chuk Hang, Aberdeen waterfront, Ap Lei Chau North, and Sham Wan and Po Chong Wan areas. The public engagement exercise of the study was completed in last December. The proposals recommended in the study are generally supported by local stakeholders, and the study is expected to be completed in the middle of this year. We will then take forward the short and medium-to-long term proposals formulated in the study from this year onward by way of minor works or public works project procedures in order of priority and project scale.
Besides, various quick-win measures taken forward in parallel with the study have largely been completed (including renovating the Wong Chuk Hang Road flyover and footpaths, repaving road surface in the Main Street, Ap Lei Chau area, and providing additional pedestrian crossing facilities at different locations, etc.) or will commence works soon (including the widening of footpaths along Shum Wan Road near the two temporary industrial areas and fronting Ocean Park's plant nursery, landscape enhancement to the upstream section of Staunton Creek Nullah, and provision of/improvement to sitting-out areas along the southern part of the Wong Chuk Hang Business Area, etc.).
Enhancing the cultural and leisure facilities in the vicinity of Aberdeen and Wong Chuk Hang, and beautifying public spaces and cityscape through "place making" approach
Pushing forward by the IISO, we opened up the enclosed landscaped and lawn area adjoining Ap Lei Chau Park, widened the waterfront promenade next to the open-air public carpark in Ap Lei Chau North, and completely improved the marine-related signage around Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter, etc. last year to provide more leisure spaces for the public and enhance the waterfront environment. Besides, the IISO and the relevant government departments have formulated proposals for enhancing the waterfronts on both sides of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter based on different themed zones as the design framework, including adding cultural elements, and will first commence part of the enhancement works through minor works projects from this year onward, including opening up the vacant area adjoining Ap Lei Chau Main Street Sewage Pumping Station, adding children's play facilities near Aberdeen Tennis and Squash Centre, and extending the children's playground in Ap Lei Chau Park proposed to be transformed. The IISO is also defining the development framework and scope for the open space sites yet to be developed in the northeastern part of Ap Lei Chau, which will be taken forward in accordance with the public works procedures.
Other place-making projects include the Green Link in Wong Chuk Hang and the revitalisation of Staunton Creek Nullah, etc. The Green Link in Wong Chuk Hang will connect the MTR Wong Chuk Hang Station and Aberdeen Country Park through a series of sitting-out areas and pedestrian facilities. Construction works have just commenced, and expected to be completed in the first half of next year. On the plan for revitalising Staunton Creek Nullah, the Drainage Services Department will first commence works early next year to construct an about-450 metres long boardwalk along the northern bank in the downstream section of the nullah for completion in 2027. This will help to enhance the connectivity between the Wong Chuk Hang Business Area and the waterfront. We will continue to formulate proposals for revitalising Staunton Creek Nullah into a river with environmental and landscape upgrading. The IISO also plans to improve the adjoining public space and sitting-out areas to transform the area into a focal point for public leisure.
Expansion of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter and vessel berthing area as well as providing more landing facilities
Pushing forward by the IISO, the Civil Engineering and Development Department is carrying out the preparatory work for the environmental impact assessment for the Expansion of Aberdeen Typhoon Shelter project. Site investigation works have just been completed, and various detailed impact assessments, gazetting and detailed design will be carried out this year. We plan to complete these tasks and seek funding from the Legislative Council next year, and commence the construction works in 2025 for completion in 2028 to provide more vessel berthing area. The relevant bureaux and departments are also taking forward the provision of additional landing facilities and harbour steps on the northeast coast of Ap Lei Chau to suit the needs of typhoon shelter users, including the small vessels that are frequently moored there.
Expediting the redevelopment or conversion of old industrial buildings in Wong Chuk Hang
Between 2021 and 2022, there were three commercial buildings newly completed and three applications for redevelopment/ wholesale conversion of industrial buildings under processing in the Wong Chuk Hang Business Area. The IISO will continue to provide facilitation services for development proposals from the private sector to help expedite the transformation of old industrial buildings in the business area through the policy of revitalisation of industrial buildings, which would in turn help provide more space for emerging industries and the arts and cultural sector.
Redevelopment or consolidation of existing "Government, Institution or Community" sites or facilities in the district
The IISO, the Culture, Sports and Tourism Bureau (CSTB) and the relevant departments have formulated proposals for the "single site, multiple uses" development on redevelopment and enhancement of recreation and sports facilities in Wong Chuk Hang, which includes the reprovision of the recreation centre, sports ground and swimming pool in Wong Chuk Hang, incorporating skatepark, district health centre, elderly health centre, small library, public vehicle park and other facilities. The relevant departments are conducting traffic impact assessment, and the technical feasibility study will be completed in the third quarter of this year. The project will be taken forward in accordance with the public works procedures.
The IISO is exploring with the relevant bureaux and departments on the possibility of consolidating the existing bus depot facilities in Wong Chuk Hang with a view to releasing part of the sites for suitable development.
The IISO is also exploring with the Environment and Ecology Bureau, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and the Fish Marketing Organisation to promote the sale of local fisheries produce at both wholesale and retail levels through the revitalisation of Aberdeen Wholesale Fish Market, incorporating food and beverage elements, to create a more vibrant waterfront.
Besides, the 2022 Policy Address announced the development of a "Round-the-Island" Trail of about 60 kilometres on Hong Kong Island, connecting the waterfront promenades on the northern shore and a number of existing promenades and countryside walking trails in the Southern District. The IISO is responsible for co-ordinating and working with the relevant departments to take forward this project. The Civil Engineering and Development Department will commence studies and design from this year onward as well as commence some of the works progressively through block allocation, with a view to connecting 90 per cent of the Trail within five years.
Participating in projects led by other bureaux
As mentioned above, the IISO actively participates in the implementation of the two projects led by the CSTB – the future strategy for Ocean Park and the development of a water sports complex at the rehabilitated Shek O Quarry Site. The Government and the Ocean Park Corporation (OPC) have been actively implementing the various initiatives under the future strategy. Apart from completing the work on relevant legislative amendments, the Government and the OPC are also reinforcing conservation and education endeavours both inside and outside the Park, taking forward outsourcing arrangements for the different themed zones within the Park, conducting technical studies for the pier projects at Deep Water Bay and Tai Shue Wan, and providing temporary landing facility at Tai Shue Wan. Upon launching of the temporary landing facility at Tai Shue Wan last August, the OPC provided, on a pilot basis, ferries services among Tai Shue Wan, Ap Lei Chau and Aberdeen for visitors to and from the Water World on specific days, and launched marine tourism routes between Tai Shue Wan and Central as well as Ap Lei Chau and Tai Shue Wan. On the development of a water sports complex at the rehabilitated Shek O Quarry Site, the tender has been cancelled as the tenders received by the Government in the open tender exercise last year did not meet the stipulated requirements. The CSTB is reviewing the latest situation and will consider the way forward.
In general, although some of the IIS projects mentioned in the question have not achieved the expected outcomes, other key projects have made good progress. As the IISO pushes forward and in the process of public engagement, many new projects have also been identified for the benefits of the local community. The IISO will continue to push forward the relevant work.
(2) Relevant bureaux will formulate targets and timetables for taking forward various projects under the IIS initiative, including the works projects co-ordinated by the Development Bureau, so as to review the progress of individual projects and ensure that the projects can be implemented as scheduled. For instance, for many of the projects and studies mentioned in part (1) above, definite completion dates have been set, which can be used as objective performance indicators.
(3) Head of the IISO leads an inter-disciplinary professional team responsible for co-ordinating, taking forward and implementing the various projects under the IIS initiative. Under the Head, there are currently only six professional grade and one general grade civil service posts, and five contract posts providing technical, liaison or general support. The staff deployment is relatively small. To maintain the effective operation of the IISO, the abovementioned positions have their necessities and need to be retained to cope with the abovementioned work. The CSTB created a contract post last year to mainly handle matters on the development of the Shek O Quarry Site. Other bureaux have not created any new position for the IIS initiative.
Ends/Wednesday, February 8, 2023
Issued at HKT 16:30