Air flow study to be discussed

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 23 October, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 23 October, 2008, 12:00am

The Town Planning Board will discuss tomorrow whether the MTR Corporation will have to conduct an air-ventilation study on a massive Tsuen Wan West development, which the Observatory suggests might block the prevailing winds blowing into the district from the sea.

The development calls for 20 residential towers and two hotels to be built along Tsuen Wan West Station. The environmental group Green Sense objects to the size of the project, arguing it will generate the 'wall effect', blocking off air flow.

The proposed development is situated upwind, and Observatory data to be presented tomorrow shows the prevailing wind direction is mainly from the south to southeast, especially in summer. In the paper, the Observatory says it has no objection to Green Sense's application.

In July, Green Sense urged the board to review the plans. It asked the MTR Corp to lower the development density from 20 towers to 11 towers. In tomorrow's application Green Sense is proposing the number of towers behind Riviera Gardens be reduced from seven to four, a non-building area of about 1,700 square metres be designated northwest of the site, and a 20m wide non-building area be designated in the middle of the site.

Green Sense is also concerned about the urban 'heat-island effect', which meant temperatures in the centre were higher than those near the sea. Cement absorbs heat during the day and releases it at night, leading to higher temperatures.

The paper reveals the Planning Department does not support the application. The department says Green Sense failed to prove its suggestions would improve air ventilation and reduce the visual 'footprint' in the area.

A spokesman for MTR Corp said it was not required to conduct an air ventilation study because its master layout plan was approved in September 2005, which was 10 months before the government brought in new rules on the issue.

The corporation, however, would consider adding sky gardens and more greenery to the development to increase air flow to the inner city, the spokesman said.

The Planning Department said it had conveyed the concerns of the public to the MTR Corp but stressed the board had no provision to revoke the planning permission.

Town Planning Board vice-chairman Greg Wong Chak-yan said the MTR Corp and the developer should take its own initiative to conduct the air ventilation study as a social responsibility.

'It would be unfair to significantly change the project's scale after the tendering exercise,' he said. 'But a responsible developer would ensure its design will not downgrade the environment of residents living behind the development.'