Judgment of the CFA on Wan Chai North Reclamation (Jan 2004)
The CFA handed down its judgment on Wan Chai North Reclamation on 9 January 2004. We understand that the Town Planning Board will review the Wan Chai North Reclamation in the context of the CFA judgment. HKIP is very concerned about the mechanism of consulting the public in the future review of the OZP as recent experiences show that the statutory process of consulting the public through gazetting an OZP and hearing planning objections by the TPB is not adequate for controversial proposals like reclamation and waterfront development projects.
HKIP recommends the Government to establish a Harbourfront Design Committee with representatives from the relevant Government Departments, Green Groups, relevant District Councils, Society for the Protection of the Harbour, Real Estate Developers Association, relevant professional institutes, etc. Senior Government Officials from the Housing, Planning & Lands Bureau and Environment, Transport & Works Bureau (excluding the ex-officials at the Town Planning Board) can co-chair the Committee. The representatives are obliged to participate in the whole review process actively, and accept the end-product which is acceptable to most members of the Committee. In order to enhance transparency and participation in the whole process, the Committee may consider informing the public about their meeting schedules in advance so that whoever interested can attend as observers. Public forums may also be arranged at appropriate times to ensure that more public views are heard.
The TPB will then discuss about the amendments to the reclamation proposals and follow the current statutory process. Hopefully with a wider base of consultation and careful consideration of the principles set down by the CFA, there should not be further major disagreements.
One main reason for the Central District and the Wan Chai North Reclamation is to build the Central and Wan Chai Bypass. While HKIP supports the early completion of the road network to resolve the increasing traffic congestion problems, we do urge the Government to continue to explore effective traffic management schemes including Electronic Road Pricing. The last thing we would want is to have further reclamation for more road construction in future.
Public Affairs Committee
Hong Kong Institute of Planners
15 January 2004