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Chp 71, Kai Tak planning – Forty years champion for the environment

Kai Tak planning

Following an earlier decision to move the Hong Kong International Airport from Kai Tak to Chek Kap Kok, T Planning for the Kai Tak areas began with the 1993 “South East Kowloon Development Statement Study”. In 1998, government announced the result of the South East Kowloon Development Feasibility Study which proposed a $36 billion development project to turn Kai Tak into the “City within a City” in 18 years, housing an additional 320,000 population and creating 92,000 jobs. On the basis of the study, the Town Planning Board gazetted two outline zoning plans (OZPs) in September 1998. The plans envisaged large-scale reclamations of 299 ha of land, from the old airport runway stretching to Hung Hom. A big Metro Park would be provided within the centre of the new reclamation area.

In view of the major environmental and social impacts, CA organized a public seminar titled “City within city: Development of South East Kowloon and the sustainable development of HK 城中之城論譠: 九龍東南發展計劃與香港可持續發展” on 24 October 1998. Among the views expressed at the seminar was the strong public sentiment against massive reclamation of the harbour.

At the close of the exhibition period, the Town Planning Board received 807 objections. At its meeting on 29 January 1999, the Board agreed to defer consideration of the objections and to begin a fresh round of consultation, starting with the formulation of a vision for Victoria Harbour. Shortly after the TPB decision, CA submitted a position paper on 3 February 1999 calling on the government to revise its plans for Kai Tak. While expressing understanding for reclamation of the Kai Tak Nullah for environmental improvement, CA called the “principle of least disturbance to the environment – minimum reclamation” to be adopted, and reclamation to be drastically reduced. According to the CA paper, the reclamation should not go beyond the limit of the current breakwater within Kowloon Bay, and the Metro Park should be sited at the waterfront for public access to the harbour. CA also called for the scale of commercial development to be reduced.

After formulating the Vision and Goals for Victoria Harbour, the Town Planning Board decided to revise the OZP for Kai Tak, and in November 1999 the Comprehensive Feasibility Study for the Revised Scheme of South East Kowloon Development was commissioned by the government. As a result, a new approach using “sustainable Kai Tak” as theme was proposed, with substantial reduction in reclamation. In a paper submitted to the government in June 2000, CA welcomed the changes and proposed further improvements to the plan, particularly in introducing sustainable modes of transport and reducing the scale of transport interchanges.

On the basis of the new study, new plans were drawn up in June 2001 to develop Kai Tak into and “Environmentally Friendly City” to house a population of 260,000 and with reclamation cut by more than half to 133 ha. With the revisions to the draft OZPs, the Town Planning Board began conducting the long-adjourned objection hearings in November 2001. This time most objectors were satisfied with the revised plans for Kai Tak, and the OZPs were approved accordingly in 2002.

However, Kai Tak’s planning was soon overtaken by other events, as the Society for the Protection of the Harbour filed a judicial review over the Town Planning Board’s decision with respect to the Wanchai North Outline Zoning Plan. The Board lost the judicial review in 2003, sparking a new round of harbour planning. In May 2004 the government established the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee (HEC), in which CA was represented, to assist the government in harbour planning. The Planning Department was tasked to undertake a planning review for Kai Tak, while a subcommittee was set up within the HEC to help guide the public engagement of the planning review. The HEC Subcommittee on South East Kowloon Development Review was chaired by Dr WK Chan, in his capacity as member of the HEC, with CA’s Alvin Kwok as one of the members and Lister Cheung as his alternate. The four-stage public engagement exercise on Kai Tak planning culminated in a new revised OZP without any reclamation, and a much reduced development intensity. The new Kai Tak OZP was approved in November 2007.

June 17, 2015 Posted by | Dr WK Chan book | Leave a comment