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  • Apr 17, 2014
  • Updated: 5:40pm
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PLANNING

Slice of harbour promenade to be handed to army

Calls to reveal secret 1994 deal between London and Beijing that cleared path for the PLA dock

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 17 April, 2013, 4:35am
 

A section of the newly reclaimed Central waterfront promenade will be handed over to the People's Liberation Army, to the shock of concern groups which are fighting against a rezoning plan to limit public access.

The site in question is a 3,000 square metre strip of the new harbourfront. The government is asking town planners to rezone it from "open space" to "military use" to allow for a military dock, angering those who want an unobstructed, continuous promenade for public enjoyment.

The plan dates back to an agreement between China and Britain in 1994 that the PLA should have a 150-metre-long military berth next to its garrison headquarters. The complete agreement was never made public and it is unclear what was stated regarding the land ownership.

A government source said yesterday that the land would be handed over to the army after the government had completed four one-storey buildings on the site to support the dock's operations.

The source also said the army would honour a promise made in 2000 that the public would have access to the dock when it was not in use.

But Albert Lai Kwong-tak, of The Professional Commons lobby group, said he was surprised. "We do not object to the provision of the military berth but the rezoning. We thought the berth, for occasional ceremonial visits, would be like [the demolished] Queen's Pier, which stood on public open space. We never thought the land would be surrendered to the army altogether."

In the design process for the harbourfront over the past few years, the government had always said the site would be zoned as open space. "This gave us legitimate expectation that the land would remain public. I wonder if officials are concealing any other deals," Lai said.

Lai's group was among those who called on the public to make submissions to the Town Planning Board against the rezoning.

Eric Cheung Tat-ming, a law professor with the University of Hong Kong, said a military berth did not necessarily warrant ownership of the land to be handed to the army. He said the government should disclose the 1994 deal to clarify the issue.

The Development Bureau said the rezoning was a "technical amendment" and drawing a military zone was "a more diligent arrangement" than open space.

 

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the sun also rises
agree with Eric Cheung that the Leung administration should reveal the 1994 deal to clarify the issue that a zone is to be handed over to the army which has already taken lots of land in the terrritory. Anyway, a military berth does not necessarily warrant ownership of the land. We public have to make submissions to the Town Planning Board against the rezoning.
the sun also rises
when we were planning for our West Rail, the No.1 Hong Kong traitor,Broomhead Ip Lau said that the site of the PLA in Shek Kong which is near Choi Yuen Village could not be asked /demanded to give to the SAR administration for builidng our West Rail, she would rather to have the villagers leave their precious living environment though it had caused a great uproar while moving the Village.Now the stationed PLAs (which headquarters is not at Tamar since 1997 as the British once did but moved to the Stonecuttter's Island -----with a road from reclamation linked with Tai Kok Tsui.)are planning to take away our waterfront site to build a military pier.For what purpose ? Easily control the situation in Central once a riot breaks out there or fear of the 'Occupy Cedntral' movement ? God knows.
HK-Lover
The condition "....the public would have access to the dock when it was not in use" is by far too vague because the PLO will define "in use" on very different terms than Hong Kong people and we easily end up having the dock closed most days of the year because it is "in use". Just look at Beijing's interpretation of "state secrets". What is common public knowledge in Hong Kong is easily a state secret in China and brings Hong Kong people often enough into trouble when working on the Mainland.
It should be clearly defined that the waterfront promenade will be open to the public on nnn days (e.g. 320 days and 90% of weekends and public holidays) per year .

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