Designers' visions are being 'stifled by the system'

PUBLISHED : Monday, 22 March, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 22 March, 2004, 12:00am

Hong Kong will never have world-class harbour development as long as planners continue to be stifled by a 'system failure', according to the chief co-ordinator of the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District initiative, formed by the Friends of the Harbour lobby group.

'The engineers are in charge in this town,' Paul Zimmerman said. 'There is a planning department but they look at land use, and that is what is left over after the roads have been allotted.'

Mr Zimmerman said 80 per cent of the harbour's foreshore was taken up with transport infrastructure. 'The government has to re-engineer itself,' he said.

One possible solution to the inefficient infrastructure would be to create a single harbour authority which would subsume interests of all departments, Mr Zimmerman said, pointing out that Sydney had a successful system in place.

He said a unified authority could then control the ferry piers, concourses, typhoon shelters, roads and parks.

A second solution would be to have the harbour authority report directly to a Minister for Planning who would be on the same level as a chief secretary.

A spokesman for the Planning Department said the government's proposed Advisory Committee on the Enhancement of the Harbourfront aimed to be a platform in which various groups could provide advice and support.