Secretary for Development's opening remarks at Legislative Council Home Affairs Panel meeting

Following is the English translation of the opening remarks by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at the Legislative Council's Home Affairs Panel meeting this morning (April 11):

I am grateful to Chairman and Members for giving us this special opportunity to come and present the refined design concepts for the New Central Harbourfront and the proposed development parameters for sites on the harbourfront. These are now included in a Consultation Digest of Stage 2 of the Urban Design Study for the New Central Harbourfront which will be released today for public engagement and are tabled today. I should add that this morning's short session is to enable Members to have first-hand information on this important subject. In fact, Members are the first group of people knowing this because I all along believe that the government and the Legislative Council should have a close working relationship. This subject will be placed on the agenda of the next regular meeting of the Legco Development Panel on April 22, 2008. As it is impossible to invite Members' views in such a short period of time, the issue will be followed up in the Development Panel. We are also happy to attend the Home Affairs Panel again to listen to Members' views on the re-assembly of Queen's Pier and reconstruction of the Star Ferry Clock Tower - a heritage item of considerable concern to Members of the Home Affairs Panel last year.

Before I invite Director of Planning to take Members through the design concepts and planning briefs proposed for individual sites, I would wish to make a few points -

(a) Victoria Harbour is a special asset and natural heritage of the people of Hong Kong. Upon completion of Central Reclamation Phase III, and our public pledge that there will be no more reclamation in Central, the New Central Harbourfront will be the permanent shoreline. We should seize this opportunity to design the Central Harbourfront to meet our vision for a vibrant, green and accessible waterfront in Central with full public participation;

(b) planning and design for the New Central Harbourfront as detailed in Stage 2 is guided by all the relevant guidelines and development parameters we have promulgated or adopted over the years, including HKPSG Urban Design Guidelines; Harbour-front Enhancement Committee's Harbour Planning Principles and Harbour Planning Guidelines; the policy initiatives introduced by the Chief Executive in October to reduce building heights and lower development intensity where justified and our new heritage conservation policy. We have also taken account of a community-initiated design competition on the Central Harbourfront; views of the Harbour Business Forum; direction of the Town Planning Board, a preliminary air ventilation assessment and views collated in Stage 1 Public Engagement of the Study;

(c) highlights in the refined design include -

* a 2 km long waterfront promenade of 11 ha of green and open space (1.4 times the size of Hong Kong Park or 65% of the size of Victoria Park), stretching from the Central Piers all the way to the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre in Wan Chai;

* a total reduction in GFA by 86,235 square metres as compared to what is permissible under the Outline Zoning Plans (Central District OZP and Central District (Extension) OZP) on five sites. The reduction is about 25% less than the permitted development under the OZPs. Since these five government sites are to be disposed of by Government, we will stipulate the development controls in the conditions of sale and there is no need to amend the relevant OZPs;

* building height is strictly imposed with the tallest new building being one of no more than 30 storeys north of IFCII, which is of 88 storeys. Buildings on the waterfront for retail, dining and leisure uses will be between one and three storeys;

* a comprehensive multi-level pedestrian network linking the harbour and the hinterland will ensure easy accessibility. There will be a landscaped deck from Statue Square to the new Star Ferry Pier; an extended footbridge network serving the Central Piers, City Hall and the Tamar Development, etc.;

(d) we have presented two concepts each for re-assembling Queen's Pier and reconstructing the old Star Ferry clock tower including as promised last year, the concept to re-assemble Queen's Pier at its original location; and

(e) we are taking this opportunity to propose increasing the vibrancy of the existing Central Piers by adding an extra floor on Piers 4 to 6 for retail and dining which as indicated by THB in earlier discussions on outlying island ferry services would have a positive effect on fares.

To ensure maximum public engagement, we have lined up various activities over the next three months and will consult each of the 18 District Councils. We look forward to Members' active participation over the next three months.

Ends/Friday, April 11, 2008

Issued at HKT 14:24