Planners seek more curbs for North Point site

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 January, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 05 January, 2008, 12:00am

Town Planning Board members yesterday urged further restrictions to the development of harbourfront areas on the former North Point Estate, saying drastic cuts already proposed by the government were not enough to ensure there was no wall effect along the waterfront.

They also asked the government to reconsider its decision not to provide a Cantonese opera centre on the site to serve the ageing local population.

In a revised proposal presented to the board on Thursday by the Planning Department, gross floor area of the site would be slashed by 66 per cent, from 3,979,450 sq ft to 1,314,392 sq ft.

But board members were worried that the wall effect would still exist if there was no cap on the amount of development allowed along the waterfront.

'Under the current proposal, the developer is still allowed to place buildings on [the] front of the harbour to enhance the value of its residential development,' said board member Bernard Lim Wan-fung.

He urged the department to stipulate that only 45 per cent of harbourfront areas could be blocked by development.

To prevent a single developer from controlling the massive project, Mr Lim said the government should consider breaking the eastern section into two smaller sites and selling them in stages.

The site, surrendered by the Housing Authority last year, will comprise a hotel development in the west and a mixed commercial and residential development in the east. More than 40 per cent of the site will be public open space.

But board member Gregory Wong Chak-yan said the plan should address local demands for a Cantonese opera centre to replace Hong Kong's only permanent Chinese opera venue, the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point, which is likely to close next year.

'The population in North Point is ageing. Elderly people who want to appreciate an opera will have to travel to West Kowloon,' he said.

District planning officer Christine Tse Kin-ching said the department would conduct a ventilation study for the site this month, and the recommended restrictions could be imposed after the study is completed in April. The public is expected to be consulted in June.

She said a larger site would give developers more flexibility to design the land uses.

Ms Tse added that the department would continue to discuss the option of a Cantonese opera centre with the Home Affairs Bureau.

Green Sense president Roy Tam Hoi-pong welcomed the curbs, urging the government to make all planning restrictions conditions of land sales.

Scaling down

The government has faced sustained pressure over the North Point development

Height limit imposed on the project: 80 metres