The sea off the PLA barracks in Central will be reclaimed to create land for a huge complex modelled on New York's Times Square and Sydney's Circular Quay, planners said yesterday. An open-air civic square the size of four football pitches and a boulevard lined with coffee shops will form a key part of the new business hub - standing on reclaimed land valued at $4 billion. Two-tier underground shopping streets - based on those in Tokyo's Ginza district - and tunnels for vehicles were also unveiled in the plan gazetted yesterday. PLA headquarters at the Prince of Wales Building will be untouched, but the military pier will have to move. The project, released for two months' public consultation, seeks to create 32 hectares of land by filling in the cove bounded by the Airport Express station to the west and the Convention and Exhibition Centre to the east. There are also plans to give the Causeway Bay waterfront a new look by reclaiming the typhoon shelter to create a 27-hectare green belt. The Planning Department's chief town planner, Ling Kar-kan, said the plan was to have the new civic square in Central be a mixture of New York's Times Square and Sydney's Circular Quay. 'We did not just copy them. We incorporated the concept into our plan. You can envisage a tree-lined promenade with outlooks to view the harbour. 'An open area, for cultural shows or celebrations, has been planned outside the future SAR headquarters,' Mr Ling said. Environmentalists, who last year won a temporary halt to reclamation of Victoria Harbour, have raised fears over the proposed zoning. But Director of Planning Dr Peter Pun Kwok-shing said the project could help strengthen Hong Kong's reputation as an international business hub. 'We need new land to build first-rate offices to attract multinational companies to set up offices here,' he said. 'We need new land to build new roads to relieve the traffic in Central and the island's northern coast.' Plans for the new land include one million square metres of office space, the sale of which would generate about $14.7 billion at current prices. Reclamation work is expected to begin in 2000 and take four years. The present scale of work has shrunk by almost a quarter compared with a plan put forward in 1990, mainly due to a smaller reclamation plan for the Causeway Bay waterfront. Independent architect Dennis Lau Wing-kwong, who opposes further harbour reclamation, said the proposed square was not necessary. 'There is no reason to reclaim the seabed to build open space. Why not leave the waterfront untouched and let the harbour itself provide a good open space,' he said.