KCRC pledge to trim towers hailed; some say it can do more

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 14 July, 2007, 12:00am

Environmentalists, a town planner and the government yesterday welcomed the KCRC's review of the density of development along its West Rail line, as a green group prepared to widen its fight against the wall effect from property developments.

The railway operator is considering trimming the number of tower blocks and their heights and altering the layout of developments at West Rail stations including Nam Cheong and Tsuen Wan West.

The government is considering the proposals and the government-owned corporation is seeking support for the policy from government departments.

A government spokeswoman said it welcomed any initiative from the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation that could help achieve a better living environment in Hong Kong.

'In conjunction with the KCRC, the government is considering the way forward for the property development at the West Rail Nam Cheong station. No decision has been made,' the spokeswoman said.

'We encourage the KCRC to take into account government guidelines on such aspects as air ventilation in the planning and design of the projects.'

Town Planning Board member Bernard Lim Wan-fung supported the proposals but said the density of development at Nam Cheong in West Kowloon could be reduced by another third.

He blamed the wall effect from putting up tall buildings close together for intensifying the so-called heat island effect, which pushes up daytime urban temperatures and reduces the amount by which they drop in the evening - a phenomenon he said had been particularly noticeable recently.

'The temperature was even higher than that in Singapore, which lies on the equator,' he said.

Roy Tam Hoi-pong, chairman of environmental group Green Sense, said the KCRC had responded positively to the public outcry about the scale of property developments, but he also said the corporation could reduce the density of development at Nam Cheong further.

This month Green Sense helped a Sham Shui Po resident take the government to court in a failed attempt to prevent a wall effect from development of a site in West Kowloon.

Yesterday the group announced it would try to delay land auctions in Wong Tai Sin and Ho Man Tin, Kowloon, by filing applications to the Town Planning Board to tighten development limits for the sites.

It wants the plot ratio for the site in Chun Yan Street, Wong Tai Sin, cut from 7.5 to 6.5 and a height limit imposed along one side, and wants the board to divide the former Valley Road housing estate site in Ho Man Tin into two lots to limit the size of the properties built there.