18 September 2010
RE. Chief Executive’s Policy Address 2010-11
1. Nature conservation -- We urge the Government to step up actions and be more pro-active in nature conservation, and suggest that it should :
(a) give high priority to include all the environmentally sensitive enclaves in the rural New Territories into their adjoining country parks; or where appropriate cover such areas by statutory town plans;
(b) review the relevance and effectiveness of the land use and development control mechanisms under the Country Parks Ordinance and current administrative measures (e.g. the provisions in the respective lease conditions) to stop the loopholes with respect to abuse of the rural countryside;
(c) establish a mechanism whereby both the public and private sectors can participate in promoting nature conservation, such as the setting up of a nature conservation fund, or the equivalent of a "National Trust" to which private interests could subscribe. This would firstly establish the means to protect and upgrade environmentally sensitive enclaves within Country Parks, and take steps to create heritage visitor attractions from some of these areas; and secondly to provide for a means of wetland co-ordination, protection and management. This mechanism in the form of a “National Trust” could further be extended to provide for the protection, restoration and maintenance of Hong Kong's listed heritage buildings in due course.
2 "Sustainable Development Strategy needed" --
(a) There are at present a number of "Green" initiatives in Hong Kong, including a Green Building Council and a Council for Sustainable Development. However, there are many anomalies that continually underline the inconsistencies that prevail in achieving the goal of a "green" city. Much of these are to do with inadequate control mechanisms and lack of a territory-wide strategy for sustainable development. Singapore has already adopted a co-ordinated strategy for sustainable growth that combines, inter alia, a significant improvement in energy efficiency; recycling rates; optimum use of land; enhancement of the urban environment; investment in building new capabilities and testing new technologies; improving environmental performance; and fostering community action. We strongly recommend that a similar comprehensive plan be established for Hong Kong.
(b) As for the planning and development of New Development Areas, the best endeavour should be given to application of sustainable development principles and practice. In general, in all other areas in the city, incentives are also warranted to encourage the application of sustainable building technology in the design of buildings to foster a quality and sustainable built environment to combat the global climate change.
3. Further long term planning –
(a) Envisioning -- In Singapore there is a platform for envisioning what the city should be like in 2050, the "Green Singapore 2050 (GS2050)". We are fast reaching 2011, and the HK2030 Study has already been completed two years ago. With the upcoming Census in 2011, we need to look ahead further, involving the public early in the process.
(b) Planning process -- It is hoped that planning in future should be less dictated by engineering infrastructure but should rather reflect the integration of planning and urban design with engineering factors. Currently, we face problems of utilitarian elements such as ventilation structures which the public object to and more often than not there is little scope to change these designs since the main thrust of the (road / tunnel) corridor or network has been fixed. This also shows the types of problem that emanate from the segregation of responsibilities among different disciplines within the bureaucracy.
(c) To meet housing needs – There are views from the public demanding the construction of more Home Ownership Schemes (HOS). We have no objection to the provision of more HOS. There is always a niche for subsidized housing, but incentives for social mobility are also important. We do not wish to see more land unduly developed, particularly green field sites if there are other developed sites suitable for conversion and redevelopment, for example under-utilized industrial sites. It is also hoped that Government could take into account all the related policies in the process, and could let the public see how these policies tally with each other, including the population policy, the future demographic structure, the need for other types of housing, and forecasts of future economic growth. There also needs to be mobility among rental housing and home ownership to meet such changes, which may include financial and not just physical means.
(d) Ageing Population – On the problem of the ageing population, there appears to be a lot more yet to be done in respect of achieving a barrier free city.
4. The Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) Review is now into its consensus building stage. While the existing Strategy was published in 2001 as a "people-centred" approach, this has not been achieved. The current URS has largely been dominated by redevelopment rather than meaningful urban regeneration. Schemes such as the Graham Street/Peel Street (H18) project are still being carried forward based on “top down”, large scale redevelopment rather than a "bottom-up" approach in the form of District Urban Renewal Forums (DURF) which is contemporaneously advocated in the URS Review. We consider that future schemes for large urban neighbourhoods should no longer be designed as virtually comprehensive redevelopment schemes just to maximise redevelopment potential but should give due emphasis to sensitive urban regeneration and a “bottom up” approach. We also consider it very important that existing schemes, including H18, be put on hold until the finalization of the URS Review. We should in no way be proceeding with a strategy for such vitally important areas as that to the south of Central, with its many stakeholder interests, while at the same time actively seeking to change such a crude and unpopular strategic approach.
5. Harbourfront –
With the establishment of the Harbourfront Commission, the HKIP and other institute members participate actively in the review and planning of the harbourfront but we frequently encounter constraints which are unduly stringent in the way ‘rules’ are applied, which often stifle common sense. An example is the Protection of Harbour Ordinance, the strict interpretation of which is preventing harbourfront linkage and continuity, interesting and characterful harbour marine uses, and even sea walls that could define potential marinas. The message of the importance to protect the Harbour is now already deeply entrenched in the minds of people in Hong Kong. However the absolute constraint is unduly mechanical and is not conducive to constructive efforts to enhance the harbourfront to make it worthy of our attempts to make Hong Kong a ‘World City’. A review of this Ordinance is warranted.
6. City culture –
The Hong Kong Shenzhen Bi-city Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism showcases the culture, arts, visions, examples and experiences of urban living and city building. It is a very popular event and it also serves as a platform where people of the two cities share and exchange their experiences of urbanization and quality of urban living. According to the experience of organising the past two bi-city biennales between Hong Kong and Shenzhen, and noting that the HKIP, HKIA and the HK Designers Association are non-profit making bodies, there is a need for substantive support from our Government, to match the support received by Shenzhen in staging these events. The next biennale will be towards the end of 2011, It is hoped that Government would give higher priority in supporting this meaningful event in future, including greater financial support and possible provision of suitable temporary or permanent exhibition spaces where appropriate.
7. Regional competitiveness –
In respect of regional competitiveness, vis-a-vis the preparation of the National Twelfth Five Year Plan, Hong Kong should review its position so far, not only limited to the integration with any or all of the Greater Pearl River Delta cities, but also how effective such integration is, in comparison with possible impacts due to the Taiwan's ECFA with the Mainland（兩岸經濟合作架構協議）, particularly as to how Hong Kong, Macao and Shenzhen might better align and maximise their respective strengths for greater achievements together vis-a-vis the impact from the fast growing region of the “West Coast Cities Development Plan "《海峽西岸城市群發展規劃》 .