Singapore and Sydney role models

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 March, 2009, 12:00am

The city should adopt the harbour management models of Singapore and Sydney, say members of a group considering a proposal to set up a harbour authority with planning and management powers.

'A good waterfront plan can be only a beautiful drawing unless we have a powerful authority to turn it into reality,' said Vincent Ng Wing-shun, one of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee members who made a study tour last month.

The members, looking for a suitable framework to manage waterfront areas, visited Singapore and Sydney harbours last month and London last year. They will visit San Francisco as the last stop next month, after which they will draw up a proposal advising the government on improving waterfront management.

Mr Ng said Singapore's waterfront management fell under the Urban Redevelopment Authority, which planned, developed, managed and promoted waterfront activities.

'Every waterfront site has its own feature and all are vibrant,' said another taskforce member, Carlos Lo Wing-hung. The authority in Singapore had clear vision, the president's political endorsement and agents to manage each waterfront project, Professor Lo said. In Sydney waterfront sites were managed by a harbour foreshore authority, he said.

He suggested setting up a harbour authority under the Development Bureau empowered to plan, develop and manage waterfront sites. Large sites could be revitalised by setting up project-based agencies, which could be in the form of public companies or public-private partnerships, he said.

The sites are currently planned, developed, managed and promoted by at least four different departments. 'The harbour authority for Hong Kong doesn't need to be a super bureau - it would be too complicated to obtain powers from other bureaus and departments outside the Development Bureau,' he said.

Committee member Paul Zimmerman, representing the Society for Protection of the Harbour, agreed that a centralised body should be set up in the bureau. He said setting up a separate legal entity to manage the harbour could be too complicated.