Secretary for Development speaks about Hopewell Centre II

Following is the transcript of the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, speaking to the media about the Hopewell Centre II project at the Legislative Council today (November 19):

Reporter: You said that the revised scheme was under Class A amendments. Could you further explain that?

Secretary for Development: I was responding to a question on whether the significantly revised and reduced Hopewell Centre II project would require Town Planning Board’s approval again.  There is a standing provision in the Town Planning Ordinance which is supplemented by very detailed guidelines.  If the changes proposed by the developer to an approved scheme are what they called Class A amendments, then there is no need to go back to the Town Planning Board.  And by and large, the Class A amendments are those amendments which reduce the size of the project, reduce the height of the project and so and so on.  So, preliminary checking by my Planning Department colleagues suggested that all those changes that the Hopewell has proposed are probably Class A amendments.  But why I was saying that we were checking with the lawyers is because we have never seen such an extent of reduction.  So, we have to go back to the spirit and the underlying rationale for that particular provision and for the definition of the Class A amendments to be very sure about there is no need to go back to the Town Planning Board.  Because these days, we need to be legally safe because people who dislike the project, they still do legal challenges that they prefer.  So, on procedure side, we are on very conservative side.  We would try to make sure that everything is okay.

Reporter: The revised project (inaudible)

Secretary for Development: Traffic is not my expertise.  As you know, traffic comes under the Transport Department.  The Transport Department has vetted the previous traffic impact assessment based on the 1994 scheme and they have asked a series of questions.  What the developers are now doing are to present different sets of traffic data and to justify why this reduced traffic flow together with the road improvement work that Hopewell is going to put into the project will solve the problem.  Preliminary data that I have seen suggested that they should be able to cope with the additional traffic generated by this reduced development.  This is really a process for the Transport Department.  As far as the Development Bureau is concerned, my job is really to ensure that Hong Kong could move ahead with both the public sector and private sector investments especially at this point in time when we do need the economic stimulus and the creation of jobs.  So, after more than half a year’s work, the discussion with the developer, I do feel that this is a scheme that I would recommend to the community for support, not only because in respect of the developer’s right to develop but also a good balance in terms of having significantly reduced the height and the density that help to rejuvenate a rather dilapidated area that has been lying idle for over 20, 30 years, let alone also the additional open space, 5,880 square metres, the additional hotel rooms and conference facilities that will enhance Hong Kong’s status as the centre for MICE (Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibitions).  And also very dear to my heart, the preservation of this Grade I historic building, the Nam Koo Terrace.  Thank you very much.

(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)

Ends/Wednesday, November 19, 2008
Issued at HKT 18:16