The government has decided to shelve its long-discussed proposal to build a piazza to replace the Tsim Sha Tsui ferry pier's bus terminus, blaming technical difficulties and public opposition.
The demolition plans were approved by the Legislative Council seven years ago but were delayed after members of the public and activists pressed for the 'historical' structure to be preserved.
The original plan to relocate the terminus to Mody Road was revised last year. Instead, officials proposed building a smaller hub at the present waterfront location, reducing the size of the planned piazza by 40 per cent.
Leslie Chan Ka-long, chairman of Our Bus Terminal, a group that has opposed the redevelopment plan since 2008, welcomed the government's decision, saying the terminus should stay because of its historical value and practical uses.
'This is a victory for all the citizens and councillors who signed our petitions, who took part in our protests and who pointed out [the] government's fault,' he said.
The redevelopment plan had elicited 7,000 opinions. The Commerce and Economic Development Bureau said the public and district council strongly opposed the plan due to concerns about delays to traffic and commuters.
A bureau spokesman said the plan was scrapped because the piazza would bring limited economic benefits, as the area was already a developed tourist spot, particularly with the presence of the 1881 Heritage dining and shopping complex.
He also said redeveloping the terminus was never a feasible option in the first place. 'The works departments discovered that the foundation of the existing pier would not be able to support substantial renovation and expansion.'
Chan said the government should have known about this problem a long time ago.
However, Paul Zimmerman, a district councillor and CEO of Designing Hong Kong, said the bus terminus and adjacent pier were badly in need of renovation. 'Right now it looks like a third-world, dilapidated area. It's dead,' he said. '[The problem] is [due to] the inability of the government to respond adequately to public input and to work with the public to come up with a good plan.'
The government's latest decision on the piazza means the terminus will remain the last stop for all 15 bus routes it serves. A Star Ferry spokesman said any decision on the terminus would have little impact on the company's separate renovation plans for the pier.
While keeping the terminus is convenient, Tsim Sha Tsui district councillor Derek Hung Chiu-wah has expressed dissatisfaction with the sudden halting of the HK$270 million redevelopment plan.
He said the government had wasted time and money, including that spent on a newly built terminus in Mody Road.
Chan said his group would press the Antiquities and Monuments Office to declare the whole area spanning the hub, pier and clock tower a heritage site. Only the clock tower has been declared a monument.