Move for development density leans towards 60-storey skyscrapers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 12:00am

The Government is considering a change, unprecedented in planning history, that will allow developers to build 60-storey residential towers in two new towns to maximise development density.

The Planning Department suggested increasing development density in Kwu Tung North, near Sheung Shui, and Hung Shui Kiu, in Yuen Long, after an initial round of public consultation.

According to the latest recommendation, some residential towers would be allowed to build as high as 60-storeys in the town centres of Kwu Tung North and Hung Shui Kiu as landmark buildings, a planning official said.

But he believed the high buildings would be limited to one or two blocks with the area still dominated by about 40-storey towers. The official said skyscrapers could avoid natural views being blocked by wall-like building clusters and the implementation of a stepped-height concept would help widen the visual corridor.

The proposed stepped-height concept would enable development height to slope away from the town centre.

'The outer core development will remain at lower-density and form a more harmonious feeling with existing low-rise buildings, such as the village houses outside the strategic growth area,' the official said.

Another advantage for skyscrapers was site coverage used by high buildings would be less than conventional blocks, which meant more open space could be created, the official said.

Under the Planning Department's suggestions, the proposed maximum plot ratio in Kwu Tung North and Hung Shui Kiu will be 6.5 times for residential development, which will enable the construction of 60-storey buildings.

Residential and commercial developments could have a maximum plot ratio of eight times, the official said.

The proposed development density for residential use in the two new towns is higher than the five times in the neighbouring area, which is dominated by 30-storey and 40-storey residential towers.

The official believed the revised development proposal, due to be completed by the end of this year, could face challenges during the second round of public consultation.

Andrew Lam, president of the Hong Kong Institute of Planners, said: 'It can be considered as a breakthrough in new-town planning history.'

'Although similar skyscrapers would be built at 'Dream City' in Tseung Kwan O, no existing building is as high as 60 storeys in any of the developed new towns', Mr Lam said.

He said the Planning Department had to achieve a balance between environmental protection and economic efficiency.

According to the Planning Development, Hung Shui Kiu will accommodate a population of 145,000 and create 27,000 jobs by 2009.

Kwu Tung North, which will be close to the proposed Kwu Tung North station of the Lok Ma Chau spur line, should accommodate 96,000 residents and create about 17,000 jobs in mainland-trade and high technology sectors by 2011.

The planning official said a more detailed proposal for the development plan in Hung Shui Kiu and Kwu Tung North should be completed by the end of this year.

The study included an environmental-impact assessment to avoid adverse impact to the living environment, the official said.