New York sets a good example

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 03 December, 2008, 12:00am

Developers in New York are required by city regulations to plant at least a tree for every 600 sq ft of open space. They must also provide at least a foot of seating for every 30 sq ft of space.

These and other design guidelines for privately owned open space were good examples for Hong Kong, the Development Bureau said yesterday.

The New York City Commission has set out detailed guidelines for open plazas in residential developments, to ensure the space is comfortable for and convenient to users. For instance, not only must seating be provided, movable seats should be stored overnight. To make the space green, developers have to plant each tree in at least 200 cubic feet of soil at least 90cm deep.

The paving of the plaza should also be decorative and compatible in colour and pattern. A minimum number of litter bins must also be provided.

Apart from the information plaque specifying the opening hours, the open space should have wider paths and ramps of a particular size to accommodate disabled people. Zonings for kiosks, open-air cafes, open-air amphitheatres and ice-skating rinks within the space are also clearly indicated.

Developers that failed to fulfil the regulations could have their building permit or certificate of occupancy terminated.

To enhance the transparency of building public facilities in private developments, like public transport interchanges, community facilities and public passages, the bureau also proposed reimbursing developers the cost of construction instead of deducting the cost from the land premium to be charged.

'This arrangement will allow the Legislative Council to scrutinise the construction of such facilities,' a bureau spokesman said.