The public has been misled about the Central reclamation, and the Town Planning Board should take another look at the plans before the face of the city is changed for the worse, the Society for Protection of the Harbour says. Rather than the open space and parkland promised by the government, the society says there will be more than 11 hectares of shopping malls and offices, and a brand-new network of roads cutting across the entire area, much the same as elsewhere on the harbour. It also insists that the government's plans may not even be legal, in light of a landmark court ruling in January that reinterpreted the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance as requiring proof of 'overriding public need'. The Town Planning Board has the ability to ask the executive council to refer a plan back to it for reconsideration. As part of its campaign, the society has created images it says show the size of the planned works. Society chairwoman Christine Loh Kung-wai said the images - contained in a four-page lift-out in today's South China Morning Post - were created using specifications from the Central (Extension) Outline Zoning Plan. 'We want people to understand this is how [the government] is going to use this land,' Ms Loh said. 'The public thinks that the reclaimed areas will be used for parks and a promenade when, in fact, most of it will be used by the government for land sales to develop offices and shopping malls, with little relationship to the people's enjoyment of the harbour. Indeed, the entire face of Central from Statute Square to beyond City Hall will be dominated by what the government calls a groundscraper, which is really a skyscraper laid horizontally.' The plan shows the groundscraper is longer than the 88-storey Two IFC is tall, and can be up to four storeys high. The society believes that if the TPB reviews the plans, it would find there is excessive development, and scale back the size of the reclamation to comply with the January Court of Final Appeal ruling. 'We worry that by Christmas, the time for cutting back will have passed,' Ms Loh said. Rather than malls and offices, the society was proposing the creation of a parkland 'signature space' atop a reduced reclamation, Ms Loh said. The scale of development was such that a six-lane road would have to be built to cope with traffic, she said, and this defeated the purpose of the reclamation - to build the Central-Wan Chai bypass. 'If you want Central to be nice, you've got to take out the traffic,' she said. 'And I think they have misinformed us on that point.' The government last night acknowledged the society's proposals but defended its plans, saying it was committed to creating a vibrant, accessible waterfront. 'The (Town Planning) Board will process the request in accordance with the existing town planning procedures,' its statement said. The extent of the reclamation would not be affected by any request for changes in land use, it added. It was defined by alignment of the Central-Wan Chai Bypass. DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL This illustration of the Central reclamation site, published in a government brochure on the project, masks the extent of the planned works, shown as lighter coloured buildings, according to the Society for the Protection of the Harbour. For instance, it is difficult to tell that the tree-lined promenade leading back into the city is on top of a 440-metre-long strip mall that could be up to four storeys high. The buildings in front of the IFC complex can all be up to 50 metres high, and the picture does not show the 59-floor Central Government Offices, or the fact that the road running parallel with the water is six lanes wide. Also, the 150-metre-long People's Liberation Army maritime berth and access road are not shown.