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China military

Hong Kong development chief rejects call to open Central waterfront area set aside for People’s Liberation Army

Lawmaker’s question echoing outcry of concern groups deflected as pending legal action cited

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 6:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 22 February, 2017, 8:35pm

The government has rejected a call to open to the public a section of the central waterfront promenade that has been fenced off since it was designated a military site in 2014.

During a Legislative Council meeting on Wednesday, Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung asked the government whether it had discussed with the People’s Liberation Army garrison if it would consider opening the closed section to the public.

Secretary for Development Eric Ma Siu-cheung said it was not possible to reopen the section because a judicial review filed against the Town Planning Board’s decision to rezone the land for military use had yet to commence.

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The Court of First Instance granted leave for the judicial review in 2014, but the case has yet to begin because the organisation taking the board to court also applied for a protective costs order, which was rejected.

An appeal against the order ruling was dismissed last Thursday. No decision has been made on whether to file a final appeal.

Affirming the government would not open the site to the public, Ma said it was “not suitable to open up the central military dock site for any public activities before it is handed over to the garrison”.

The 0.3 hectare site was designated to have a military berth next to its garrison headquarters, according to an agreement in 1994 between the mainland and the UK.

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In 2013, the government unveiled a plan to rezone part of the central waterfront promenade for military use, and in 2014, the Town Planning Board approved it.

The news elicited an outcry from concern groups that wanted the area to remain public open space and only be closed when the military needed to use it.

The government also revealed that while the handover of land to the military was pending, the Lands Department has been responsible for the site’s management at a cost of HK$275,000 per year, mostly for security and maintaining a fence surrounding the site.