Pier pressure over PLA takeover of HK harbourfront site forces record public hearing

1,000 ready to speak out against PLA takeover of harbourfront site at month-long meeting

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 4:29am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 November, 2013, 12:21pm

A public hearing on a plan to rezone an area of the harbourfront in Central for military use is set to be the longest in the history of the Town Planning Board, running for more than a month.

The hearing starts on Monday and the last session will take place on December 11, a Planning Department spokeswoman said.

About 1,000 people have said they wish to speak on the contentious plan, one tenth of the number who wrote to the board to oppose the change of use of the 0.3 hectare strip of open space, by which the People's Liberation Army is building a pier.

The hearing will be divided into 16 full-day sessions.

Arrangements for the hearing have been controversial; speakers objected to being given just 10 minutes each to make their points.

The board's guidance notes for speakers make no mention of a time limit, but say speakers might be asked not to repeat arguments presented by others.

Opponent Winston Chu Ka-sun has raised the possibility of a legal challenge to the time limit.

The PLA plans to use the site for training, ceremonies and pier maintenance, and open it to the public at other times.

The government said the site had to go to the army under a 1994 Sino-British deal. But activists fear a loss of access to the harbour.

The pier case will not be the last lengthy board hearing.

An application to rezone part of the former Lee Wai Lee Campus in Kowloon Tong for housing drew more than 28,000 comments, many from Baptist University staff and students, who want the site used for education.

No date has been set for the hearing but time limits are again expected to be imposed.

"The number of representations and comments received on the two cases is unprecedented," the spokeswoman said.