Central harbourfront plan cuts development to add open space

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 12 April, 2008, 12:00am

The latest government proposal for the Central waterfront cuts the development density by up to 25 per cent to allow for more green and open areas along the harbourfront.

The reduction translates into HK$3 billion to HK$6 billion in lost revenue, according to floor prices provided by surveyors.

But legislators said the move did not go far enough, and called for the scrapping of a planned 18-storey hotel and a 30-storey office building in front of Two IFC.

Among the new inclusions are small retailers scattered along the waterfront, and a 'groundscraper' - a long, block-shaped building - of shopping malls and offices which could be broken into four to six clusters.

The proposals, released by the Development Bureau for a three-month public consultation, also highlighted possible locations for Queen's Pier and the Star Ferry Clock Tower.

A total of 260,000 square metres of floor space for commercial use is now proposed along the waterfront. The current outline zoning plans allow a maximum gross floor area of 346,235 square metres, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.

She said the government had decided to build 25 per cent less, although calculations show the gross floor area is actually just 19 per cent less than the 321,460 square metres first proposed by the government in 2005.

Surveyor Charles Chan Chiu-kwok estimated hotel sites would go for HK$7,000 per square foot and offices for HK$12,000 per square foot. Even small-scale retail blocks could be sold at HK$5,000 per square foot.

Based on his estimate, the government would gain at least HK$26 billion from selling the waterfront sites.

But it would have earned HK$3 billion more if it had kept the development density of 2005.

The government would gain HK$6 billion if it increased the gross floor area to the maximum allowed in the outline zoning plans.

However, lawmaker Patrick Lau Sau-shing said the development density was too high and urged the government to reduce it.

Legislator Cheung Man-kwong questioned whether the public was being given enough options. 'The public is asked to choose either building a hotel and an office building or two office buildings in front of IFC Two. Both plans will block the harbour's view. Is it really a choice?'

Mrs Lam said the government had already suffered a 'great loss' in land revenue for the sake of environmental reasons.