Town planner knows 'not much' about CY's building proposal

Official tells district council he knows 'not much' about plans to relax prime areas' building rules

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 March, 2013, 4:07am

A town planning official who admitted to having "not much information" about a proposal to lift development restrictions in the Mid-Levels and Pok Fu Lam has drawn fire from district councillors.

One councillor yesterday said that he was "stunned" at the response from Ng Kar-shu, a senior Hong Kong Island town planner, during the Central and Western District Council meeting.

Ng was being questioned about the proposal floated by Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying in his maiden policy address in January to relax moratoriums on development in the two areas.

Asked how far the government was prepared to relax the restrictions and which areas would be affected, Ng said: "The government is still researching the feasibility. There is no concrete opinion. The bureau's instruction [to me] is that the research is ongoing ... We have not much information."

He added that there was "no timetable" for the proposal.

"I'm stunned by the official's response," Ip Kwok-him, also a lawmaker, said.

Former lawmaker, Democrat Kam Nai-wai, said the government's eagerness to find land for housing had gone too far.

The council was debating a motion demanding that no planning changes be made until a detailed plan on how to improve transport in the Mid-Levels and Pok Fu Lam was available.

Councillor Chan Chit-kwai, who proposed the motion, said any relaxation could have "serious consequences" on transport and air quality.

"Transport in the Mid-Levels and the Peak is already overburdened, and the roads are of an older standard," he said.

The council unanimously passed the motion.

A government source had earlier said that relaxation of restrictions would be made possible by the completion of the West Island and South Island MTR lines and the Central-Wan Chai bypass.

The moratorium on construction in the areas was introduced in the 1970s to control traffic.