Central Kowloon Route (Phase 2 Public Engagement) (Mar 2013)

CKR-PAC comments.pdf

Comments of the HKIP Public Affairs Committee’s Comments on the Central Kowloon Route Project Phase 2 Public Engagement

General comments–

1.      We support in principle the early implementation of the Central Kowloon Route. The need for this link between east and west Kowloon would become more imminent with the developments coming up at Kai Tak and the transformation of Kowloon East primarily into a new business area - the “CBD-2”. However, we have major concerns on the engineering led study approach with relatively low priority given to urban planning and urban design considerations.

2.     We are concerned about the massive impacts of the flyovers, slip roads, noise barriers and noise enclosures /decks, etc. Even where such barriers are needed, their visual impacts should be minimized as much as possible, and priority should be given to providing a continuous and user friendly pedestrian network, which should be able to connect particularly the inland areas with the waterfront.

3.     On the re-provisioning of GIC facilities, although the present disposition of certain land uses may be unsatisfactory due to various constraints in the past, e.g. the jade market is separated in two parts and tucked under a flyover etc. However, when compared with the enormous cost of the whole engineering project, it is considered that all possible opportunities should be taken to restructure all the relevant affected sites together to rationalize their inter-relationships, improve pedestrian and traffic circulation and to enhance the townscape of the wider district. In this respect, more creative concepts could have been generated for public engagement instead of the present proposals of replacing the same uses at the original locations on a site by site basis.

4.    The land take of administration buildings and ventilation buildings and their building heights should be minimized to reduce their visual impacts and to give priority to public use of valuable ground level open spaces.

5.     Our detailed comments are set out below.

Detailed comments –

Yau Ma Tei

6.   The Yau Ma Tei interchange – The slip roads are in danger of becoming segregating elements, making the various sites quite inaccessible to pedestrians. Although these parcels are zoned as green areas, they are unlikely be well coordinated or well patronized as useable spaces. “Option 1” where the public is allowed to access the landscape decks, would require the pedestrians to negotiate various levels. There are also no attractions along the way to provide the pedestrian movements with meaning and purpose commensurate with the effort. The massive landscape deck of more than 250 m in length, while serving as a noise barrier, produces substantial visual impacts by featuring several rather hard and imposing edges to the neighbourhood and to pedestrians at the ground level.  “Option 2” should be rejected, as it would have a huge construction cost with no provision for public access at all, compared to “Option1” which provides a link, albeit a tortuous one, to the landscape deck associated with the XRL project.

7.     Planning for Pedestrians -- We are also concerned that there is a general lack of pedestrian access from inland to the Yau Ma Tei waterfront. This is against one of the Harbour Planning Principles stating that : Victoria Harbour must integrate with the hinterland in a comprehensive manner, including ample unrestricted and convenient visual and physical access for pedestrians, preferably at grade, to and along the Harbour as well as the harbour-front areas.

8.     Urban Design -- Besides the massive noise barriers along the reconstructed Gascoigne Road flyover which pose enormous visual impacts on the adjacent areas, the noise enclosure over the Ferry Street section of the Gascoigne Road flyover may also block air ventilation. Also, deleting the Tung Kun Street pedestrian subway at this location due to its present low usage is not a good reason. The alternative that the study offers in the form of a grade crossing at Kansu Street and Yan Cheung Road, etc., crossing 3 streets, is rather circuitous and hazardous. Instead, an alternative underpass should be considered along the line of Public Square Street. Replacing the Tung Kun Street subway by an improved one at Public Square Street would fit in with the latter which would link up with the temple and the square in front of it, and such an axis would also remotely link up with King’s Park across Nathan Road. On one side of Public Square Street is the Yau Ma Tei Police Station which is a Grade II historic building, and some sections of the Street have already been improved. It may be possible to remove the road side parking spaces there and widen the pavements instead. By making better use of Public Square Street and planning for pedestrian movement, this would have more meaning in terms of urban design and place making.


Ma Tau Kok –

9.    Ma Tau Kok landscape deck – The rather rigid form and hard edges of the proposed platform are un-conducive to attract public access to the deck itself and would hinder public access to the water-font. More innovative designs should be considered, to make fuller use of the space underneath the deck and to provide easier access to the deck itself. Attractions, some shop-fronts, cafes, etc. may help to make the route towards the waterfront more meaningful. Apart from re-provisioning a public transport interchange, provision should be made for tourist coaches. “Option 2” with no access for the public should be rejected. The design should take into account the potential use of the disused Kowloon City Vehicular Ferry Pier which could possibly become a destination place for leisure and entertainment. It is worthwhile to arrange a design competition to solicit more creative ideas and to foster acceptance by the community.

Kai Tak –

10.    Kai Tak Interchange -- The alignment and the slip roads of the Kai Tak interchange come very close to the waterfront near the northern tip of the Kai Tak channel and the south-apron waterfront, and encroach substantially on the Kai Tak River “mouth”. This stretch of waterfront should be a most attractive and vibrant one since it commands a splendid view all the way along the Kai Tak channel and overlooks a potential aquatic sports venue. Yet this space becomes narrowest at this location after the imposition of this interchange. The pedestrian movement from inland to the waterfront would pass underneath a very wide span of flyovers. While this could technically be handled effectively through good planning, landscape and urban design, (as in Sydney's Darling Harbour) this requires very close coordination with the Kai Tak layout, urban design and pedestrian movement pattern. The layout of the administration building and ventilation building should be reviewed to reduce their land-take to give priority to public enjoyment of the spaces. Design should observe the Harbour Planning Principle regarding enhancement of public access to the waterfront and maximize opportunities for public enjoyment while land required for and the impact from infrastructure developments, utility installations and land uses incompatible with the harbour planning principles should be minimized. 

Reprovisioning of GIC facilities

11.    Generally, the proposals for relocation of GIC facilities appears to be too rigid and unimaginative. It requires an overall review by a dedicated planning and urban design team, and proper coordination with the Kowloon East Office responsible for the Kai Tak layout.


12.    At present there is much conflict between pedestrians/ hawker stalls and the traffic entering and exiting from the multi-storey carpark in Temple Street. Opportunity should be taken to improve the situation as part of the re-provisioning exercise. Some car parks could for example be allocated in basement levels upon redevelopment so as to make the ground level more open to pedestrian use and also provide some upper floors for deserving community uses. It is also hard to understand why the RCP and bath house block fronting the Yau Ma Tei Community Centre Rest Garden is not integrated with the rest of the GIC building upon the re-provisioning of the latter so as to make better use of the whole site ?

13.    The jade market is a tourist attraction and deserves a better design standard and setting, both culturally and spatially. The jade market should be re-located permanently, instead of temporarily at the “temporary re-location” site, since it is in fact closer to the hawker street section of Temple Street directly across Kansu Street, and thus it could add to the attractiveness of each other. As such it would possibly be even better than relocating back to its present location.

14.    The Automobile Association’s site under the Gascoigne Road flyover is probably not the most efficient land-use at this location along Nathan Road. Therefore, the site should also be taken into consideration in a comprehensive review of the re-provisioning of all the affected GIC facilities.

Administrative and Ventilation buildings – 

15.     In general, it is considered that the land-take of administration and ventilation buildings should be minimized as far as possible. Secondly, if security measures can be satisfied, the public should be allowed to access the green roofs for leisure/recreation. Some of the parking areas for the administration building may be placed underground to release more ground level space for the use of the public.


ENDS


Public Affairs Committee
Hong Kong Institute of Planners
March 2013

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