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  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 8:52pm
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 18 January, 2013, 5:53am

A Mid-Levels idea that's not worth developing

Dear CY,

I am writing as a concerned citizen. But first, let me congratulate you on your maiden policy speech. You read for two hours without a slip and didn't even need to take a single sip of water, and all the while the likes of Long Hair were blowing up balloons and performing other theatrics. This annual marathon has always been an endurance test for chief executives and, previously, colonial governors. You passed with flying colours.

I generally approve the direction you want to take Hong Kong but there is one key proposal which caught my eye - lifting restrictions on property development in Pok Fu Lam and Mid-Levels. I can accept more development in Pok Fu Lam, where I live. It's a pleasant, low-density area but I am willing to do my duty for the greater good so you can build more affordable flats.

But Mid-Levels? All I can say is: HAVE YOU GONE CRAZY?

I used to live there but moved to my current place to get away from all the dust and noise, the traffic jams and the constant danger of trucks speeding down steep slopes and loading and unloading at myriad construction sites there.

It's a rich hunting ground for the big boys like Henderson Land, Swire Properties and Cheung Kong, which have at least eight projects in Mid-Levels West. At least 17 sites have either newly completed projects or projects under construction, or have been partially acquired by developers.

Many of the roads in the neighbourhood are one-way and long ago reached capacity.

If your plan goes ahead, developers will just speed up redeveloping old buildings, disturbing neighbours and creating more "luxury" flats at HK$20,000-plus per sq ft, not housing for the grass roots and families buying their first home. You say 47 of the 420 plots of land in Mid-Levels may be developed if restrictions are lifted. Tell us where they are.

Because the Town Planning Board imposed height restrictions in Mid-Levels in early 2008 to make redevelopment projects less lucrative, developers rushed in 2007 to get approval to build skyscrapers on sites they did not fully own. That partly contributed to today's boom in the area.

Please stop the insanity before it goes any further.


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Corrections of typos re 18Jan 6:27pm
Mid Levels refers to foothills between 100-200 meters contour
Much more mid levels space available EAST of Garden Road
I have two cars but I walk to and from work everyday
With properties in Jardine’s Lookout (space and quietude) and WML (history and academic atmosphere), I choose the later.
Having declared my personal interest, I now try to comment objectively:
The western extension of MTR and new escalators on Center Street
Can’t eliminate the bottlenecks of the limited road capacity
WML roads serve not only local residents but also those in Pokfulam.
If some of the increased traffic from further developed Pokfulam pass thru Caine Road, to join those from the further developed WML and from the Peak at Garden Road,
It will be HELL
If Mid-Levels refers to the foothill area between 200-meter and 300-meter contour
Much more space is available west of Garden Road
No more development / redevelopment in WML
The anti-car posters fail to address the bigger question of who benefits from ramping up development in the Mid Levels. By their logic the government should encourage skyscrapers to bloom from the farthest reaches of Plantation Road, given how little traffic there is on the Peak. As for traffic down below, there is indeed a need to keep Robinson, Caine and assorted tributaries from turning into parking lots each morning around 9AM. For a clue on root causes please compare the situation during the last week of May and the last week of June: the absence of students and the parents/taxis that drop them produces an magical result. But as desirable as restrictions on passenger vehicles may be they would not address the dire lack of affordable housing that is, arguably, the bigger millstone around HK people's necks.
Alex, someone has to pay the bill! I won't mind someone buying up these extra mid level places to feed our hungry government and hopefully they can use the money they robbed from the rich to feed the poor. Does it make sense?
How about the Peak, Repulse Bay......?
Mid-Levels CAN take more flats, provided that private cars are removed from the roads. The mid-level corridors should be come bus and essential service vehicle only lanes. The pavements must be also be widened to allow and ENCOURAGE residents to walk or cycle to their work places, schools or to the MTR. If new flats are built, do not provide car parking in the basements. These areas should be reserved for the parking of bicycles ( including electric bicycles, which should be legalized let everywhere else in the developed world).
I think it is a great idea to build in Mid-levels. Government officials keep on saying to build in Kowloon and New Territories where there is massive redeployment potential in Mid Levels. Way too many low rise buildings of the rich few. Below are some pointless excuses about traffic conditions that make little sense. The only reason that the traffic is bad is because all the people drive cars with just 1 person in them. Make a toll for private cars with 1 passenger at HK$100 and 2 passengers at HK$50 and magically the issues mentioned below will be gone. People will quickly move to public transport and a nice benefit will be less pollution. Stop being elitist mid-level residents and wake up and do your part.
John Adams
Good Idea : create a toll booth at the end of Conduit Road ! ( I am serious )
Can’t work well with tablet touch-screen
To clarify my 5:49am comments:
(1) Uniqueness of WML is dwindling; what remains demands absolute preservation.
(2) Redevelopment of police quarters of No 7 station only if it proceeds without undermining neighborhood atmosphere.
John Adams
I fully support Alex on this
The problem with Mid-levels is the limited road access : Bonham Road, Kotewall Road, and especially Conduit Road which seems to have been in perpetual road works in at least 2 - 3 locations for as long as time can tell, thus limiting the road to one-way with traffic light controls. And then all these roads funnel down into Garden Road / Cotton Street Drive thus making for an almighty traffic jam mornings and evenings.
The mid-levels moratorium had a purpose and nothing has really changed. Yes we need more affordable flats, but anything in Mid-levels is de facto non- affordable
It is shocking and depressing to propose to increase the plot ratio for the already congested ML – a reverse in direction of height restriction imposed a decade ago when traffic bottlenecks became intolerable. The planners if to support such idea seem again it is hoping on yet an unprofessional solution in serving the public at large: make the developers happy and build even more in ML. I will challenge the planners to propose a more sensible development concept for Hong Kong mainly to urbanize the South District of Hong Kong Island. Or is it a district that forever to be the backyard for the rich and powerful? Yes, stop the MTR at Sheng Wan going any further to assure forever the masses will not become our neighbors. Let the planners free from bondage from developers and begin their work with some common sense and unbiased professionalism.
I fully support A's arguments
The dwindling uniqueness of WML is indispensable for HK's most valuable diversity
Even W Lo-Level, say the area around CY haunt, the quarters of No 7 police station
need vital preservation
Urban junglization will defeat environmental goals
Any attempt of encroachment will incur unbearable righteous opposition
and wreaths of HKU and all the elite schools in the area
Another crazy idea is the development of new towns in the NE NT. Infrastructure costs alone will be huge. Instead, start razing the massive areas of old and decrepit buildings in Kowloon and HK Island. There is plenty of land but it is not being efficiently utilized.


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