Urban planning

Department must provide full disclosure on Hopewell Centre II

PUBLISHED : Friday, 26 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 26 December, 2008, 12:00am

I refer to the confidential decision of the Town Planning Board that design changes to the Hopewell Centre II, or Mega Tower, were so minor that they did not need the board's approval ('Rezoning plan for Wan Chai site rejected' December 18).

In 1994 when the project was approved there was no public consultation.

Now, after five years of public debate and criticism of a planning system that has failed to protect the public interest (on the 1994 scheme), it is an insult to the public that changes to the scheme are again being implemented behind closed doors - and in fact delegated to the level of district planning officer.

The fact that Hopewell Holdings has, under pressure, shown a willingness to modify the scheme is not an excuse for the Planning Department to exclude the views of the public on these changes.

The department should immediately make known the following:

Absolute confirmation that the maximum gross floor area is 101,667 square metres and that no extra 'hidden' bonuses will be allowed;

The nature, extent and impact on the locality of roadworks to be carried out by the developer, since clearly they include massive structures that will encroach onto the public domain;

The construction duration and impact of these roadworks which will create noise, disruption and diversions both in Kennedy Road and Queen's Road East;

The location of the existing mature trees that will avoid the massive concrete podium (which appears to cover the entire site area); and

An explanation of why a major portion of the site is allowed as private open space at a time when the secretary for development has recognised the failure of the private open space concept, from the community point of view.

The astonishing statement by the Planning Department that 'zoning as a comprehensive redevelopment area would encourage the developer to provide open space' is utter nonsense given the history of this site since 1985 and the Town Planning Board's definition of 'open space'.

Roger Emmerton, Wan Chai