A former planning chief has called on the government to put the Tamar project on hold as existing plans fail to guarantee an 'excellent design'. Peter Pun Kwok-shing, director of planning between 1992 and 1998, said the government should hold a design competition, and an independent panel should assess submissions and recommend the design. Mr Pun said he was worried the design-and-build approach to developing Tamar would sacrifice design as contractors needed to maximise profit. 'Good design will increase construction costs, which hurts profit,' said Mr Pun, chief executive of the Hong Kong Policy Research Institute, an independent think-tank. The government issued the tender document for the HK$5.16 billion project late last month. It estimated the new headquarters would be ready in late 2010. Mr Pun said the majority of civil servants should stay at the existing Central Government Offices and Murray Building, so the new and old headquarters would form a cluster of buildings in Central that showcased the architecture and history of the government. 'Too much emphasis is given on the interior of the buildings, such as how many conference rooms and offices there are,' he said. 'It will be the future political, administration and civic centre of Hong Kong. The first guiding principle is that it must reflect this objective in the most admirable manner.' He described the government's attitude to calls to seek alternative designs for Tamar as 'apathetic'. Mr Pun said the right way would be to develop a theme for the project and formulate a master plan to guide the design. The site should be rezoned to become a 'comprehensive development area' so that Town Planning Board approval for the master layout plan would be necessary. Under existing zoning, the board is not required to approve the design. The government should organise a competition to tap talent, he said, citing the competition held for the design of the University of Science and Technology as an example of such an approach.