Building design controls opposed

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 July, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 July, 2009, 12:00am

An architect working for a leading property developer yesterday spoke out against government proposals to impose building design controls and cut back on the amount of extra floor space developers can earn by incorporating 'green' features into their projects.

Kevin Ng Shu-keung, assistant general manager of Henderson Land Development, said the proposed guidelines were excessive and disrespected private property rights.

Mr Ng - who said later he was not speaking for Henderson Land - was among about 100 people who attended the first consultation forum on proposals for achieving a sustainable built environment.

The six-month consultation by the Council for Sustainable Development is seeking views on whether the government should continue to allow extra gross floor area in projects that include features such as balconies and podium gardens.

The policy has been blamed for allowing developers to increase the height and bulk of buildings.

The consultation document also proposes a set of design guidelines, specifying a minimum amount of greenery, gaps between buildings and street widths.

Most of those who spoke yesterday agreed with the proposals.

But Mr Ng, presenting the results of a round-table discussion with several participants, asked: 'What's the use if you cut back your building and make the street wider, but your neighbours don't?'

He said the proposal to separate buildings with gaps, if they formed a continuous width of more than 60 metres, was arbitrary.

'Should you use a stick or a carrot? I think the government should encourage developers to go green, such as certifying green buildings.'

The architect said the existing procedural controls were effective, and if the government wanted to address concern about new projects, a community impact assessment could be required of developers.

Mr Ng said after the forum that his views did not represent Henderson Land although he registered for the forum with his company name.

He added that it was not appropriate to impose the same percentage of floor area cap on all sites in the city since landscapes differed.