Diversification the key to a vibrant harbourfront, says planner

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2006, 12:00am

Hong Kong's harbourfront needs to be diversified by mixing green areas with commercial and residential development and community use to become vibrant, a Canadian planning official and local harbour activist say.

Larry Beasley, co-director of planning for Vancouver, yesterday cited his city as an example of how to achieve diversity.

'We wanted to bring a diversified pool of people to the harbourfront,' Mr Beasley said. 'Humanity is value-adding to the city. In the end, the value it adds to the city is equal to, if not greater than, developing for business only.'

Mr Beasley was speaking at the Foreign Correspondents' Club, at a seminar on waterfront planning organised by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce.

Drawing on experience in Vancouver, he pointed out that there was a mix of green areas, commercial development, community use and high and low-end residential projects along an extensive spread of waterfront.

High-density development around the harbour would actually help to finance the low-density, high-quality community space that should be blended into the whole harbour development, he said.

His views were endorsed at the seminar by Christine Loh Kung-wai, chief executive of the think-tank Civic Exchange.

Ms Loh challenged the government's development plans for the waterfront, which feature new highways criss-crossing the district, massive buildings - including the new government headquarters at Tamar - and mega shopping malls.

'Our harbourfront is going to be a 'highway paradise',' Ms Loh told the conference.

'And the open space promised by government in Tamar is going to be a massive, sun-blasted square.

'To protect our harbour front we have to push the government to change the zoning plan of Central and its plans for Tamar.'