Deal with the public's concerns about Tamar project, government urged
Olga Wong and Ambrose Leung
The government should address public queries and concerns as soon as possible now that it has selected the design for the government headquarters at Tamar, planners and lawmakers urged yesterday.
The government said yesterday that planning details and the public response to the proposed designs would be disclosed only after the contract was awarded to the company, by the end of this year.
But critics said issues such as security, wind studies and the amount of open space accessible to the public should be open to public comments.
'The Door', the towering, arch-shaped design by Hong Kong architect Rocco Yim, won the hearts of the government's selection panel but appears likely to exceed the government budget of HK$5.2 billion.
Sources from the industry said one of the options for the Gammon-Hip Hing joint venture design could cost up to HK$5.8 billion. However, since the choice of construction materials is adjustable, the actual cost is still negotiable.
Wong Kam-shing, chairman of the board of local affairs for the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said the government must address issues of public interest early. 'Where is the area for demonstrations? How much indoor and outdoor space will be really open to the public?' he said. Scientific data on air movement around the design, from a ventilation study, should also be released for public comment, he said.
The government's invitation to tender called for a 10-metre wide security moat around the buildings. It said an area guarded with a fence and gates should be located in front of the headquarters. Neither feature is clearly visible in the design chosen by the government.
Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of the Hong Kong People's Council for Sustainable Development, said the government should demonstrate how the disclosure of such information could affect the commercial operation of bidders.
The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing said a special meeting of the Legislative Council planning panel should be called to hear more details from officials. Another legislator who has closely monitored the development said Legco President Rita Fan Hsu Lai-tai should brief the legislature, since a new Legislative Council building was part of the Tamar project.
Meanwhile, a source close to the selection process said details of how and why the design was chosen would be published in the future.
'Everything will be made public and people should not worry about the public interest being harmed. Legco's approval must be sought and given if it costs more than HK$5.2 billion,' the source said.