Bureau plans to run open spaces

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 May, 2009, 12:00am

The Development Bureau has proposed that the government take over management of public open space in future private residential and mixed developments, but may allow developers to keep charge of such space in commercial projects.

Under the new policy, developers would have to meet the cost of providing the space in new residential developments or large-scale projects involving multiple ownership, then hand it over to the government.

For example, developers buying the former government supplies depot in Oil Street and part of the North Point Estate site will be required to provide a public open space of about 3,800 square metres and a waterfront area of 2,300 square metres.

They will have to design and construct the spaces at their own cost and hand them to the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

But the bureau said in a paper prepared for discussion by the Legislative Council that flexibility should be given in commercial projects.

It said it was more reasonable to invite developers to bear the management and maintenance responsibilities in such developments because the open space would help attract the public to commercial operations like shopping malls, adding value to the developments.

In the case of Two IFC on the Central waterfront, which includes more than 13,000 square metres of public open space, the developer has to maintain the space at its own expense and to the satisfaction of the government. The bureau did not consider taking over its management because the space was easily accessible and well integrated with the offices, hotel and shops, the paper said.

A spokeswoman for Henderson Land Development welcomed the new policy, saying it would clarify the present confusion over management responsibilities between the government and developers.

Lawrence Poon Wing-cheung, of the Institute of Surveyors, said it was reasonable for the government to take back management duties of public open space from residents, because such duties were often a 'nuisance' and a burden for residents.

But he said officials should assess commercial projects case by case.

A development comprising public facilities or owned by several developers should have centralised management by the government to avoid conflict, he said.

Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of the think-tank The Professional Commons, said the government should form a working group with community representatives to think of ways to enhance open space.

Design and management guidelines will be made available later this year to ensure all public open space is accessible and of good quality. A mechanism seeking views from professional bodies and the community could also be set up to guide the designs of each public open space, the bureau said.