The Town Planning Board decided yesterday that a 68-storey building proposed for a revamped Kwun Tong town centre would have to be lowered by 20 metres to avoid becoming an eyesore.
Board members said they were not satisfied with the Urban Renewal Authority's justifications for the 280-metre height of the office-and-hotel tower, which would stand 80 metres above surrounding buildings.
The URA says the proposed tower will meet residents' requests for a landmark in the centre of Kwun Tong.
The board last month delayed approval of the plan pending assurances that it would not create air flow problems or become an eyesore.
The URA argued that a taller, slimmer tower would allow for more ventilation corridors between the tower and any surrounding blocks.
But the Planning Department, in advising board members, said the argument could 'hardly be convincing' because the authority's assessment showed the 280-metre tower would only marginally increase air flow when compared with a 220metre structure. The authority checked only the air flow impact of two scenarios: for buildings that were 220 metres and 280 metres tall.
The board approved the master layout plan for the Kwun Tong project, though, as a condition, it required the authority to lower the centrepiece's height by about five storeys, to 260 metres.
Board member and Kwun Tong district councillor Nelson Chan Wah-yu, who had advocated a tall landmark, said he understood the concerns of his fellow members.
'A height reduction will be acceptable to residents as long as the building design is attractive,' he said.
The authority has also proposed adding a public observation deck on the 61st-storey to allow for 360- degree panoramic views over the future Kai Tak cruise terminal, Victoria Harbour, Tsim Sha Tsui and Quarry Bay. The deck will include food and drink facilities, and souvenir shops.
Members approved the idea but asked the URA to make sure it would be freely accessible by the public and not incorporated into the hotel area.