LCQ19: Projects to improve pedestrian environment and beautify the harbourfront

Following is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (November 5):


In his policy address delivered last month, the Chief Executive stated that the Government would study a number of district projects, including "extending the footbridge system in Mong Kok to cover central Mong Kok and the Tai Kok Tsui area", and "study the feasibility of conducting medium and long-term re-planning of the harbour, improve the accessibility of the harbourfront and, …… proceed with the construction of waterfront promenades".  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a)  given that in reply to my question in May last year, the Government indicated that the extension works of the pedestrian footbridge at Mong Kok Road were expected to be completed by the end of 2009, but it has recently been reported that the Transport Department advised that there was quicksand underneath the proposed location for the bridge columns and the works were thus suspended, whether the Government has assessed if the works will be completed on schedule;

(b)  of the details of the above study on the extension of the footbridge system in Mong Kok to cover Tai Kok Tsui area, including the scope of the study and its completion date;

(c)  given that in commissioning the consultancy study on Area Improvement Plan for the Shopping Areas for Mong Kok earlier, the Planning Department ("PD") also explored the proposal to construct a footbridge along Argyle Street, but the proposal was subsequently rejected on grounds that the footbridge foundations would decrease vehicular capacity, whether the Government will reexamine the proposal; if it will, of the details;

(d)  given that it was proposed in the Report of the Hung Hom District Study commissioned by PD that a waterfront promenade should be developed in Hung Hom, whether the Government will draw up a timetable for implementing the proposal; and

(e)  whether the Government will study the reprovisioning of a number of the existing public facilities along the West Kowloon waterfront, such as the Yau Ma Tei Cargo Handling Area, so as to avoid impeding PD from implementing the proposals to develop the land along the waterfront, which were put forth in the Report of the Planning Study on the Harbour and its Waterfront Areas published in 2003?



My reply to the five-part question is as follows:

(a)  The western extension of the Mong Kok Road footbridge system across Nathan Road will be constructed by a private developer.  The associated preliminary investigation works were completed last year with the assistance of Government departments such as the Transport Department (TD) and the Police.  As there are legal procedures remain to be completed, including the consideration of whether the extension should be regazetted, and part of the works arrangements of the project such as underground ducts diversion have not been finalized, the construction works for the footbridge were unable to commence at the end of last year as scheduled.  We will continue to liaise with the developer for the early commencement of the works. TD and the Highways Department have not received any report from the developer on the discovery of special geological conditions that would hinder the works progress.

(b)  The Policy Address proposes to improve the pedestrian environment.  One of the proposals to be studied is to extend the footbridge system in Mong Kok to cover central Mong Kok and Tai Kok Tsui area.  TD is making preparations for the concerned study.  Various factors such as transport needs, geographical conditions, technical feasibility will be considered in arriving at a suitable proposal.  The study is expected to be completed in early 2010.  Upon completion of the footbridge system extension scheme, together with the existing and planned footbridges and public corridors, the footbridge system in Mong Kok and Tai Kok Tsui will be enhanced.  It will facilitate pedestrians to commute to and from the busy locations in the districts.  

(c)  The Study on Area Improvement Plan for the Shopping Areas for Mong Kok commissioned by the Planning Department (PlanD) did not put forward any specific and substantive recommendations to extend the footbridge system in Mong Kok to cover the central Mong Kok area.  When PlanD conducted public consultation on the study in mid-2007, some members of the public requested to extend the existing footbridge system at Mong Kok Road along Sai Yee Street to cover the Argyle Street area.  From the traffic point of view, if a new footbridge is built over the section of Sai Yee Street and Argyle Street, the footbridge foundations will occupy part of the roads, thus decreasing vehicular capacity and affecting the traffic.  As such, the above proposal was considered undesirable by the consultant.

By redeveloping the depots of the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Water Supplies Department at Sai Yee Street in Mong Kok, TD's proposed extension of the footbridge system to cover the central area serves to connect the public corridors inside such depots to the footbridge at Mong Kok Road. There is also a branch footbridge over Argyle Street to improve the footbridge network of the area.  Compared with the previous proposal of constructing a footbridge along Sai Yee Street, it is a more desirable option with much less impact on traffic during and after construction.  TD will continue to examine this proposal.

(d)  To beautify and revitalise the waterfront of Victoria Harbour for use by the public, the Development Bureau (DEVB) will co-ordinate with various government departments in carrying out the waterfront promenade projects in different districts.  Given the existing restrictions over the use of waterfront sites, the work will be planned for implementation on short-term, medium-term and long-term basis.  To take Hung Hom as an example, the Hung Hom District Study recommends that a continuous waterfront promenade should be built from Tsim Sha Tsui East to Laguna Verde.  As the MTRC Freight Yard and International Mail Centre (IMC) are located on the Hung Hom waterfront, the continuous waterfront promenade proposal cannot be implemented until the MTRC Freight Yard and the IMC are relocated in the long-term.  No specific timetable for its implementation has been drawn up yet.  Nevertheless, beautification of the wall of Tai Wan Shan Swimming Pool will soon be carried out for better integration with the public realm.  The works will commence in early 2009.  In the medium-term, we will explore the feasibility of public private partnership to develop the waterfront promenade adjoining the Comprehensive Development Area near the Hung Hom Pier.

(e)  At present, the site along the West Kolwoon waterfront is mainly used as a public cargo working area.  Other uses include an abandoned vehicle surrender centre, the Yau Ma Tei Marine Office and some undeveloped sites for temporary uses.  The main purpose of the Planning Study on the Harbour and its Waterfront Areas, which was completed in 2003, was to formulate a Harbour and Waterfront Plan to guide the use of waterfront areas and recommend major tourism development components and opportunities for the Study Area.  The Study recommended that additional tourist attractions and facilities should be provided outside the Inner Harbour, such as the Yau Ma Tei Public Cargo Working Area/ Typhoon Shelter.  This recommendation was a conceptual idea and aimed to explore feasible ways to enhance the environment of the coastal area of the district.  However, the cargo industry strongly objected to the idea. Hence, the Yau Ma Tei Public Cargo Working Area cannot be relocated within a short time.  The Planning Study therefore did not include this conceptual proposal in the Action Area Plans.  The Public Cargo Working Area is still in operation and no definite plan has been drawn up for its relocation.

The waterfront promenade of the West Kowloon Cultural District has been opened for public use since September 2005.  DEVB will continue to explore long-term and short-term initiatives to enhance the accessibility to and beautify the West Kowloon waterfront, including opening up some undeveloped sites for use by the public.

Ends/Wednesday, November 5, 2008
Issued at HKT 14:31