Waterfront's ambience at risk, harbour activists fear

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 August, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 August, 2009, 12:00am

Members of the Harbourfront Enhancement Committee are worried that new pump rooms and utilities will ruin the ambience and accessibility of the new Central waterfront.

The members warned that diners at future restaurants along the harbourfront might not be able to eat outside if construction plans did not take into account the future possible uses for the area.

An aerial shot of the Central waterfront showed utility buildings and a few pump rooms, including one that was more than 170 metres long and about three metres high on the waterfront to the north of the Tamar site. An air vent for the Central and Wan Chai bypass will also be built in front of IFC One and Two.

The shot has prompted worries that the government is repeating mistakes made to promenades in West Kowloon and Kai Tak, where roads and air vents have ruined the look of the waterfront.

The Development Bureau said the pump rooms had been built underground. But their air shafts had to be above ground. Greenery would be planted on the roofs of the pump rooms to beautify the environment, the bureau's spokeswoman said.

Harbourfront Enhancement Committee member Vincent Ng Wing-shun said he was surprised to see utilities built along the waterfront as the government's consultant was still studying the plans for the Central waterfront. 'We haven't decided where to put the alfresco dining,' he said. 'Can the pump houses structurally support a restaurant?'

Mr Ng said there were lots of cases where government departments had made the area around a waterfront less attractive.

He said one proposal received by the committee last month was from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department, which proposed parking garbage trucks temporarily at the North Point waterfront underneath the Island Eastern Corridor and enclosing the area with wooden boards.

'We need an overarching harbour commission to solve these problems,' he said.

Another committee member, Paul Zimmerman, said there would not be much room for alfresco dining if the pump room were not able to support restaurants. The PLA berth would also occupy 150 metres of the waterfront, he said.

Greg Wong Chak-yan, who chairs the committee's task force to advise the government on the Central waterfront, said the pump rooms had replaced those knocked down during the reclamation.

He said the pump rooms might be able to support restaurants but careful design would be needed to take into account the undulating waterfront.

In a committee meeting on Monday, the task force will recommend that the government restores the Star Ferry Clock Tower and Queen's Pier in their original locations.

Most task force members, excluding government officials, would prefer the pier to be reassembled with a large lagoon built in front of it, making it a place for public activities. They would also like to maintain the historic proportions of the clock tower, City Hall and the pier.