Knight Frank tells Hong Kong to up its game on central business district planning

Property consultant calls for fresh thinking as Beijing and Shanghai expand business districts

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 3:47am
UPDATED : Thursday, 24 October, 2013, 12:36pm

Hong Kong needs better long-term planning of its central business district to maintain its position as China's main financial centre amid increasing competition from Beijing and Shanghai, according to property consultant Knight Frank.

Knight Frank suggests amalgamating private and public sites and improving connectivity between Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai and Sheung Wan, which could be merged into one greater central business district.

Beijing and Shanghai are planning their business districts well

"In terms of long-term competitiveness, Beijing and Shanghai are planning their business districts well. Their planning is better than that of Hong Kong," said Thomas Lam, the head of research (Greater China) at Knight Frank.

Lam pointed out that Beijing and Shanghai were expanding their CBDs and surrounding districts, and promoting themselves as regional and international financial hubs.

However, the same could not be said for Hong Kong. "Although the Special Administrative Region will also see a considerable amount of new office supply in Kowloon East - the second central business district - its relative remoteness from the existing core central business district will make it difficult to create synergy between the two areas," he said.

Lam said that while the logistics of merging Central, Admiralty, Wan Chai and Sheung Wan might ultimately prove overly technically challenging, he believed that it "would still be worthwhile for the government to examine it".

Edward Farrelly, the head of research at consultancy CBRE in Hong Kong, said he did not believe that Hong Kong had lost position.

"What we need to do is ensure future prosperity and part of that is to ensure that companies have sufficient space in which to expand," he said.

Looking ahead, Farrelly saw a further integration of the different markets in the Pearl River Delta, with Hong Kong at the centre of this activity.

"While it is relatively easy to create new space, it is very difficult to create the qualities, many of them intangible, that make Hong Kong a major player on the world stage," he said.

An earlier version of the story erroneously referred to the property consultant firm as "Frank Knight." It should be "Knight Frank".