The five-storey expansion of the new Legislative Council building at Tamar is likely to win initial approval from town planners today, despite objections from a Hong Kong-listed mainland company that owns an office block behind the site.
The expansion will equip Legco with a constitutional library, an archive, a studio for sign language interpretation and press photo rooms. It also allows for a possible increase in the number of lawmakers - from 60 to 120. The administration proposed the plan after lawmakers requested extra space to allow for more users. It will raise the height of the building from 63 to 85 metres, with 15 storeys.
The directors of Goldon Investment, owner of the Citic Tower in Tim Mei Avenue, filed an objection with the Town Planning Board on the expansion plan during a public consultation. The directors are also executive directors of Citic Pacific.
In its submission, the company said the proposal would 'further block the sea view from the west side of Citic Tower'. It would also block the penetration of sunlight to the middle and lower zones on the west side of the tower and intensify the 'wall effect', it added.
However, the Planning Department, backing the expansion, said: 'In the highly developed context of Hong Kong, it is not practical to protect private views without stifling development opportunity and balancing other relevant considerations.
'In the interests of the public, it is far more important to protect public views, particularly those easily accessible and popular to the public or tourists.'
The expansion will also add a Tamar cafe, part of it outdoors, on the second floor of the government office block, connecting to an extensive lawn dubbed the 'Green Carpet'.
The 265 square metre cafe will be open to the public, and will add variety and vibrancy to the public open space, the department said.
Designing Hong Kong, an NGO concerned with urban design, expressed support during the consultation but urged the government to consider a subway connection between Tamar and a commercial tower in Admiralty to improve pedestrian access. The existing plan to land the walkway on a pavement was a less direct route to inner Admiralty, it said.
The government rejected the suggestion, saying it would involve road closures. The Town Planning Board will discuss the plan today.
The Tamar development will house two government office blocks as well as Legco. It is expected to be operational by 2012.