Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):
Recently, the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) has, in response to the new set of practice notes drawn up by the Government for controlling "inflated buildings", redesigned the Tsuen Wan 5 development project located above and in the nearby area of Tsuen Wan West (TWW) Station of the MTR West Rail. In respect of the newly revised schemes for the project, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) how the newly revised schemes for such project at present compare with the schemes approved in 2005 (including the respective land areas, permissible floor areas and plot ratios for residential and non-residential uses as well as the overall plot ratio for the entire project; the numbers of residential blocks and flats, as well as those residential flats of area less than 40 square metres; the numbers of storeys of the podium and refuge floors of the residential project, and the areas of public open spaces, public walkways, podiums and clubhouses; the numbers of private and public parking spaces and parking spaces for motorcycles; and the projected revenue from land premium);
(b) given that according to the newly revised schemes, at the bayside area site (situated on the waterfront), there will be nine residential blocks of 46 to 55 storeys (including the podium floors and the sky gardens or the refuge floors) and their heights will be approximately 152 metres above Principal Datum (mPD) to 187 mPD, and at the cityside area site (situated farther inland), there will be five residential blocks of 17 to 46 storeys (including the podium floors and the sky gardens), and that the building heights at these two sites will exceed the height of the neighbouring Skyline Plaza (with about 35 storeys) situated farther inland, whether the authorities have conducted any air ventilation assessment on the newly revised schemes so as to ascertain whether the project will cause wall effect (with illustrations to show the details of the distribution, heights and distances from the waterfront of buildings under such schemes, the distribution and heights of neighbouring buildings, the relationship between the wind directions of the area and the ventilation breezeways, as well as the relationship between the landscape of the area and the visual corridors, etc.);
(c) why under the newly revised schemes, an additional storey is added to each of the eight out of the nine residential blocks at the bayside area site (i.e. from 39 to 42 storeys to 40 to 43 storeys), while only one block has been reduced from 49 storeys to 48 storeys;
(d) as it is advised in the "Urban Design Guidelines" of the "Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines", taller buildings should be located inland and lower buildings on the waterfront, and wall and land-locked effect should be avoided to maintain visual permeability to harbour, and the TWW Station is situated along the Rambler Channel, whether it has assessed the impact of the construction of buildings with such heights at that location on the habour view of the area, and whether this is in breach of the relevant guidelines; of the general building heights along waterfront areas at present;
(e) whether it knows the views of the relevant District Councils on the newly revised schemes; and
(f) whether it will request MTRCL to examine making further adjustments to the layout and design of the buildings in the project and reducing building heights, with a view to alleviating the impact of the project on the air ventilation and harbour view of the area?
In the 2011-12 Budget Speech, the Financial Secretary announced that the West Rail Property Development Limited (WRPDL) would redesign the six property development projects above the West Rail stations to comply with the new quality and sustainable built environment (QBE) requirements which aim at addressing the community's concerns over "inflated buildings". Sites Tsuen Wan 5 (Bayside) and Tsuen Wan 5 (Cityside) of the Tsuen Wan West Station are two of these six projects.
The QBE requirements, including measures to regulate "inflated buildings", have been drawn up on the basis of extensive public engagement undertaken by the Council for Sustainable Development. The requirements are now set out in the practice notes issued by the Buildings Department following detailed discussions with professionals in the building and construction industries. They provide objective standards for assessing building designs and suitable incentives for inclusion of green features in new buildings.
The Tsuen Wan 5 (Bayside) and Tsuen Wan 5 (Cityside) projects had master layout plans and building plans approved by the relevant authorities before the new QBE policy was announced in October 2010 and could actually proceed without any change. However, since they are government sites yet to be tendered, the Administration has taken the initiative to subject them to the new QBE requirements. The opportunity has also been taken to increase the supply of small and medium-sized flats in these West Rail projects so as to better cater for the public's demand for such flats.
I reply to the question as follows-
(a) Based on the information provided by the MTR Corporation Limited (MTRCL) (as agent of WRPDL), the comparison of the revised scheme and the 2005 approved scheme of the Tsuen Wan 5 projects is set out at Annex 1. Since the land premium of the projects is affected by a number of factors, we are unable to compare their estimated land premium. However, it is worthwhile to point out that these development projects above the West Rail stations are owned by the Government through WRPDL, and that MTRCL is playing an agency role only.
(b) MTRCL has appointed an independent consultant to conduct an air ventilation assessment in accordance with the Government’s relevant Technical Circular. The detailed assessment report has been appended to the planning application of the Master Layout Plan (No. A/TW/423) which MTRCL has submitted to the Town Planning Board.
Results of the assessment indicate that reduction of podium height, widening of the breezeways and introduction of urban windows in the revised scheme are conducive to penetration of more wind into the inland area in summer. Based on the air ventilation assessment and the visual impact assessment submitted by MTRCL, compared with the 2005 approved scheme, the revised scheme has made improvements in terms of air ventilation and visual permeability. The illustrative diagram on breezeways and visual corridors of the revised scheme is at Annex 2.
(c) The objective of redesigning the scheme is to comply with the new building design guidelines. The revised scheme for the Tsuen Wan 5 (Bayside) meets this objective.
(d) The objective of redesigning the Tsuen Wan 5 projects is to comply with the new QBE requirements and at the same time to increase the number of small and medium-sized flats.
When redesigning the Tsuen Wan 5 projects, MTRCL made reference to the Urban Design Guidelines of the Hong Kong Planning Standards and Guidelines. Introduction of breezeways/visual corridors along the waterfront buildings, coupled with a reduction of the podium bulk and enhanced landscape design, is conducive to wind penetration from the sea in summer and improving the visual effects viewing from the waterfront and inland area to the subject sites.
As mentioned above, based on the visual impact assessment submitted by MTRCL, as compared with the 2005 approved scheme, the revised scheme has made improvements in terms of visual permeability.
(e) The Tsuen Wan District Council discussed the revised scheme of the Tsuen Wan 5 projects on May 31, 2011 and passed the following motion: :The Tsuen Wan District Council (TWDC) welcomes the improved design of the Tsuen Wan 5 projects put forward by the Government according to the requirements of 'controlling inflated buildings' and in increasing the supply of small and medium-sized flats. But TWDC strongly urged the Government to further adjust the distribution of residential flats at the Cityside development in response to the demand of local residents." We have given detailed responses to this, namely that, on the premises of better utilisation of land resources to meet housing needs and achieving early development of the Tsuen Wan 5 projects, there is no room for further revisions.
(f) Compared with the 2005 approved scheme, the revised scheme complies with the new QBE requirements and has made improvements in terms of air ventilation and visual permeability. The Government and MTRCL have done lots of work to revise the scheme of the Tsuen Wan 5 projects, striving to address the public's aspirations for better living environment, and have struck a reasonable balance amongst the supply of more small and medium-sized flats at West Rail property developments, implementation feasibility of the projects and better utilisation of scarce land resources, etc.
Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2011
Issued at HKT 16:22