32. The Chairman concluded that the Council fully supported the proposed incentive scheme in view of its benefits in the improvement of the air quality. He requested the Administration to report the progress of the scheme in due course.
Agenda Item 5 : South Lantau & Mui Wo Development Feasibility Study
(ACE Paper 45/2001)
33. The Chairman welcomed STP(SR)/PlanD and SE(HKI&I)/TDD to the meeting. STP(SR)/PlanD briefed Members on the proposed study.
34. A Member said that given the rich natural resources in South Lantau and the proximity to the future Disneyland theme park, there was great potential for tourism development in the study area. He was disappointed that the Administration did not take a more proactive approach in planning the land-use of South Lantau and Mui Wo. The study seemed to limit the development of the area to a certain estimated population figure. He urged the Administration to adopt a more committed approach in planning the use of the study area, targeting at more economic opportunities as far as possible.
35. A Member shared that Member's view. He said that from the way the study was presented to the Council, it seemed that the Government had no idea on how the study area should be developed and totally relied on the recommendations of the consultants. He pointed out that if the Government was determined to turn the area into a major tourist attraction, clear directives should be given to the consultants.
36. In response, STP(SR)/PlanD said that the study was based on the South West New Territories Recommended Development Strategy (RDS) in which the main objective for the development for South Lantau was to balance development with tourism and conservation needs. According to the RDS, the indicative population in Mui Wo was about 17,000, which would be subject to changes in subsequent further detailed studies. She thanked Members for their comments and said that the Administration would keep an open mind on the development potential of South Lantau while taking into account aspirations of the general public in due course. SE(HKI&I)/TDD supplemented that while bearing in mind the conservation need, one of the aims of the study was to establish a tourism development framework, to identify potential attractions and recommend proposals and facilities in that respect.
37. A Member did not agree with the reason stated in para. 2 of the paper that the development of South Lantau was brought about by the improved accessibility of the region arising from the transport infrastructure in North Lantau. He was of the opinion that the infrastructure was required because the Government intended to develop that area. He believed that Hong Kong had greater potential than many other countries to develop into a resort node and suggested the Administration to emphasize that point to the consultants.
38. A Member shared the sentiments of Members and said that the Government should take the lead and show its commitment to develop South Lantaut into an international tourist spot. He reckoned that the plan could always be refined during the consultation process.
39. A Member appreciated the goodwill of the Government to balance the land-use for conservation, tourism and recreation purposes. She pointed out that there were a great variety of tourism trends. The development of the study area should not be limited to only one of the trends. Instead a wide selection should be offered in the planning process, including education value of the area, environmental transportation such as ferry services, and residential development similar to that in Discovery Bay.
40. A Member pointed out that there were prisons and drug rehabilitation centres in the study area which were not compatible to the proposed land-use. She asked whether those institutions would be re-located and their sites be re-developed. In response, STP(SR)/PlanD said that they would request the consultants to address this in the study, taking into account other considerations of locating these correctional institutions.
41. The Chairman suggested that the study should also consider establishing a boarding school which was at present not available in Hong Kong.
42. As a general response to Members' comments, SE(HKI&I)/TDD said it was not true that the Administration had no idea on how the study area should be developed. In the light of the SWNT Recommended Development Strategy, the Administration had a clear vision that the Study Area should be developed along a balanced development and conservation approach in accordance with the principle of sustainable development. The Administration also recognized the unique characteristics of South Lantau being a relatively well conserved area in a high quality environment, and its potential in fulfilling a diversity of recreation, tourism and leisure needs. This was also one of the reasons Soko Islands were included in the Study Area. The Study Brief was clear in those directives, including strengthening tourist attractions, and the consultants were to come up with implementable plans as to how those objectives could be achieved.
43. In response to the Chairman's enquiry on the study programme, STP(SR)/PlanD and SE(HKI&I)/TDD said that they had already consulted the Town Planning Board on the scope and objectives of the study. The study was expected to commence in mid-2002. Phase I of the study would involve a 13-month planning stage and a 8-month studies on the preliminary engineering feasibility and environmental impact assessment. PlanD would draw up the Recommended Outline Development Plan upon the completion of the consultation on the Preliminary Outline Development Plan. Priority areas would be identified under Phase II of the study and detailed assessments would be carried out for those areas.
44. The Chairman thanked STP(SR)/PlanD and SE(HKI&I)/TDD for briefing the Council.
Agenda Item 6 : Second Public Consultation on the Consultancy Study "Urban Design Guidelines for Hong Kong"
(ACE Paper 46/2001)
45. The Chairman welcomed AD(Metro)/PlanD and CTP/PlanD to the meeting. AD(Metro)/PlanD gave a short briefing on the proposed guidelines and major urban design issues as outlined in consultation digest.
46. The Chairman commented on the obtrusive impact of the chopstick-like twin buildings which were under construction at Stubbs Road and the wall effect created by buildings planned in Cha Kwo Ling. He asked how those could be avoided under the proposed guidelines. In response, AD(Metro)/PlanD explained that the plot ratio of the twin buildings was lower than the maximum ratio permitted under the Building Planning Regulations (BPR). Their excessive height was because of no height restriction in the lease or statutory town plan, and the site coverage adopted by the developer was exceptionally low. The consultation digest had recommended options such as suitable height restrictions or minimum site coverage as measures to address concerns on excessive heights. As regards the wall effect of the planned buildings in Cha Kwo Ling, AD(Metro)/PlanD pointed out that the intensity of those buildings was lower than what was permitted under the BPR. Nonetheless, since Cha Kwo Ling was a Comprehensive Development Area, the detailed design of those buildings would be subject to approval by the Town Planning Board.
47. A Member followed up on the Chairman's point and said that if the development plot ratio on private land was to be maintained, chopstick-like buildings could not be avoided unless there were height restrictions. One possible solution was to allow transfer of plot ratio to areas where development of tall buildings would be accepted. In response, AD(Metro)/PlanD said that the permitted plot ratio under BPR could still be achieved under the currently proposed height profile which was 30 to 40 storeys at the waterfront and over 60 storeys inland. As no loss of plot ratio was involved, there was no need for plot ratio transfer in this regard. Nonetheless, Planning and Lands Bureau was considering the proposal of transfer of plot ratio to achieve heritage preservation but she anticipated that it would be a long process due to the complexity of the issue. She further stressed that Government had to face the dilemma of choosing between maximizing flexibility for building designs/development and regulations on building height to achieve specific urban design objective. One of the purposes of the series of consultation exercises was to solicit public opinions in the subject so that the Government could formulate a set of guidelines with a view to striking an optimum balance.
48. A Member supported the proposed guidelines but urged the Administration to expedite the process lest the ridgelines would be blocked before the guidelines and restrictions were put into place. AD(Metro)/PlanD shared that Member's concern and said that the consultation process was drawing to a close.
49. A Member asked whether some forms of compensation would be provided to the affected group whose development rights would be threatened under the proposed guidelines. AD(Metro)/PlanD said that it would become complicated and cause delay in implementation once compensation was involved. In deciding on the way forward the Administration would be inclined to choose option that would not involve the issue of compensation as far as possible.
50. A Member commended the PlanD's willingness to listen to the views of all groups and considered the whole process very educational. She suggested including environmental health consideration in developing the guidelines as air porosity contributed to part of the living quality. Also she suggested strengthening the ridgeline/waterfront protection, by legislation if necessary. She did not rule out the use of high-rise nodes as landmarks but emphasized that they should be put in strategic locations.
51. AD(Metro)/PlanD agreed with that Member's comments and said that the consultation exercise had aroused the public awareness of the issue of urban design. There was an almost unanimous view of the need to ensure for attractive waterfront development against the mountain backdrop but there were quite diverse opinions on the mechanism to achieve preservation of the ridgelines.
52. A Member noted that the existing ridgelines were already "punctuated" but the proposal would still allow relaxation on individual merits and accept punctuation effects at suitable locations. He asked how the merits would be assessed. Noting that developers of tall commercial buildings favoured location in Central, he also asked that for the purpose of preserving the ridgelines and the waterfront, whether the Administration could designate other areas for high-rise buildings and provide incentives to the developers to move to those areas.
53. In response, AD(Metro)/PlanD said that despite their efforts in encouraging development of secondary commercial nodes e.g. in new towns, developers still found the urban area in particular, Central, more attractive. As for assessment of design merits, PlanD was considering a proposal to designate special design zones in landscape sensitive areas where development proposals would be subject to approval by a special design panel or sub-committee under the Town Planning Board.
54. A Member agreed that the ridgelines should be maintained as far as practicable. However, having regard to the limited flat land in Hong Kong and that some ridgelines had already been "punctuated", he suggested that the designs of buildings which were located outside the view corridors should be considered under different criteria. AD(Metro)/PlanD said that as reflected on P.34 of the consultation digest, only areas within the view corridors would be subject to regulation on building height. High rise node would be encouraged at selected strategic location.
55. A Member commented that it would be difficult for the Administration to achieve the ridgelines/waterfront preservation purpose in the absence of restrictions on height and site coverage. For example, there were originally two more blocks at the centre of the Kowloon Station but later the approved floor area was incorporated with that of other buildings, making the latter taller than planned. From an architect's point of view, he said that as long as the Government spelt out the restrictions clearly, architects could find their ways to meet the developers' requirements and at the same time adhere to the restrictions. In addition, he would like to see more members of the architecture profession to be involved in the design vetting process. In response, AD(Metro)/PlanD explained that the Kowloon Station fell outside the proposed view corridors. The building height thereon could therefore be relaxed. She agreed with that Member that height restrictions were necessary to protect the ridgelines pending the location of the vantage point and extent of ridgeline to be preserved.
56. In response to a Member's enquiry, AD(Metro)/PlanD said that the major consideration of building designs in small local areas outside the view corridors or vantage points was preservation of local character instead of the ridgelines. Pending availability of resources, PlanD could consider commissioning detailed studies on the urban design framework of specific local areas or individual neighborhoods with a view to preserving special local characteristics.
57. In reply to the Chairman's question, AD(Metro)/PlanD said that the guidelines would be finalized after the second public consultation.
58. The Chairman thanked the PlanD for the presentation and looked forward to receiving the finalized guidelines.
Agenda Item 7 : Any Other Business
Report on ACE's visit to Europe
59. Due to the time constraint, the Chairman proposed to defer discussion on the report to the next meeting. He also said that the report, if endorsed, would be passed to the LegCo Panel on Environmental Affairs for reference.
Environment Seminar & Networking Reception
60. The Chairman informed Members that the British Consul-General had invited the Council to an environment seminar held that day on solid waste and wastewater management and he had advised the Consul-General that the seminar clashed with the meeting. However, Members could join the Networking Reception to be held later that evening if they so wished.
Agenda Item 8 : Date of Next Meeting
61. The next meeting was scheduled for Monday, 17 December 2001.