Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(1)1541/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)

Ref: CB1/PL/PLW/1

LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works

Minutes of special meeting held on Tuesday, 23 March 1999, at 10:45 am in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP (Chairman)
Dr Hon TANG Siu-tong, JP (Deputy Chairman)
Hon HO Sai-chu, JP
Dr Hon Raymond HO Chung-tai, JP
Hon LEE Wing-tat
Hon Ronald ARCULLI, JP
Hon James TO Kun-sun
Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Kong-wah
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Non-Panel members attending:

Hon NG Leung-sing
Hon SIN Chung-kai

Members absent :

Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Public officers attending:

For items I, II, III & V

Mr Gordon SIU
Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Mr Patrick LAU
Deputy Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands

Mr Wilson FUNG
Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Planning)

For item I

Mr Bosco FUNG
Director of Planning

Mr Raymond CHIU
Assistant Director of Planning
(Technical Services)

Mr Raymond LEE
Senior Town Planner (Ordinance Review)
Planning Department

Mr Tom YIP
Town Planner (Ordinance Review)
Planning Department

Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Planning)

For item II

Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning,
Environment and Lands (Environment)

Government Civil Engineer
(Project Management)
Civil Engineering Department

Deputy Project Manager
New Territories East Development Office
Territory Development Department

Mr Stephen LI
Engineer, Sai Kung & Tseung Kwan O Division
New Territories East Development Office
Territory Development Department

For item III

Chief Engineer (Tsuen Wan)
New Territories West Development Office
Territory Development Department

Senior Engineer (Major Works)
Territories West Development Office
Territory Development Department

General Manager, Planning Branch
Marine Department

Senior Marine Officer, Planning Branch
Marine Department

Mr David WONG
District Planning Officer
(Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and Sham Shui Po)
Planning Department

For item IV

Mr CHAN Wing-sang, JP
Deputy Secretary for Works (Works Policy)

Mr WONG Hung-kin
Project Manager
New Territories North Development Office
Territory Development Department

Mr CHEUNG Hing-wan
Chief Engineer (Yuen Long Division)
Territory Development Department

Mr YUEN Wai-yeung, Gregory
Project Manager (North Section)
Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation

Mr KWONG Hing-ip
Chief Assistant Secretary for Works (Technical Services)

For item V

Land Registrar

Mrs Alice LEE
Registry Manager
Land Registrar
Clerk in attendance :
Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
Ms Pauline NG
Assistant Secretary General 1

Ms Bernice WONG,
Assistant Legal Adviser 1

Mrs Mary TANG,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2
The Chairman informed that some members of the Panel had earlier expressed dissatisfaction about the late provision of the Chinese version of the information papers which were only tabled at the meeting. He reminded the Administration to provide discussion papers in both Chinese and English languages a few days before the Panel meeting so that members would have adequate time to consider them. The Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (SPEL) apologised for the delay in providing the papers for this meeting and assured that papers for future Panel meetings would be provided timely for members' consideration.

I Town Planning Bill
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1010/98-99(01))

2.The Chairman informed that the Town Planning White Bill (the White Bill) was discussed by the Panel on 6 August and 17 December 1996, and a motion debate requesting early introduction of the Town Planning Bill (the Bill) was carried by LegCo at its meeting on 18 December 1996. Since the provisions of the Bill would be studied in detail by members after its introduction into LegCo, the Chairman suggested focussing the present discussion on the broad issues raised at earlier Panel meetings.

3. With the aid of a computer, the Senior Town Planner (Ordinance Review), Planning Department (STP) explained the objectives of the Bill and compared the main provisions under the existing Town Planning Ordinance, the White Bill and the Bill, highlighting the amendments which were made in response to the comments received during the public consultation period (Re: Annex I to the information paper).

4.Responding to Mr LAU Kong-wah's enquiry on the appeal mechanism, STP advised that under the Bill, the Appeal Board (AB) would consider an appeal within three months after the date of lodgement. Subject to application by either parties to the appeal, AB could extend this period. How long it should be extended would be decided by AB on a case-by-case basis. Mr LAU expressed concern about the wide flexibility given to AB in considering appeals which might impede the progress of planning.

5.Mr LEE Wing-tat noted with concern some fundamental changes in the policy direction of the Bill from the White Bill, particularly in the aspects of public participation and transparency. He pointed out that under the White Bill, any person could submit representations on a draft plan, whereas the Bill restricted the objection right to only persons who were affected by the draft plan. The Bill also dispensed with the need for a planning certificate before the Building Authority approved the building plans and deleted the provision for imprisonment sentence for undertaking unauthorized development. He called for an explanation for the apparent retrogression of the Bill.

6. SPEL clarified that the Bill had not deviated from the spirit of the White Bill to enhance transparency and public participation. In practice, any person could submit representations on a draft plan but it would be up to the Town Planning Board (TPB) to decide whether the person concerned was affected by the draft plan. The Bill aimed at striking a proper balance between efficiency and right of participation in the plan-making process.

7. Mr LEE Wing-tat pointed out that since land was a public asset, its use and planning would have effects on the entire community. It was not appropriate for TPB to judge whether or not a person who submitted a representation was affected by the draft plan, since he/she could be affected even if the draft plan in question was far away from where he/she lived.

8. The Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands(Planning) (PAS/PEL(P)) said that the Administration had not taken a retrogressive step on public participation in the plan-making process. Under the existing provisions of the Town Planning Ordinance, only persons affected by a draft plan could raise an objection. While the White Bill had proposed that any person could submit representations, the result of public consultation revealed divided views on the issue. The present proposal in the Bill would maintain the current system under which only persons affected by a draft plan could submit representations. The person submitting the representation needed only to show that he/she would be affected by the draft plan and the concept of "vicinity" was not a factor to be taken into account. TPB would examine all representations submitted. It would look into the compatibility of the planning proposals with the surrounding environment. Applications for selected uses would be published for public comment. The list of applications requiring publication would be notified by TPB in the Gazette. This would be a more open system as compared with the current system under which publication of planning applications was not required.

9. Mr HO Sai-chu enquired if non-compliance with the planning conditions imposed by TPB would attract sanctions other than the forfeiture of a performance bond. PAS/PEL(P) said that the levy of a performance bond was to ensure full compliance with the planning conditions imposed by TPB. Where these conditions were not fulfilled, Government would take actions to ensure their compliance and the costs of such actions would be covered by the performance bond.

10. PAS/PEL(P) said in response to Mr HO Sai-chu that there were now 34 members in TPB, of which seven were official members.

11. Mr Ronald ARCULLI expressed concern about the way in which TPB considered planning applications and representations. He pointed out that under the present operation mechanism, members who examined a planning application or a representation and those who voted on the application or representation in question were not necessarily the same group of persons. This was far from satisfactory as the voting members might not be in full picture of the issues that had been considered . SPEL said that he was not aware of any cases where members who examined a planning application were different from those who voted on the application. The proposal to increase the quorum of TPB meetings from five to nine members under the Bill would enhance stability of attendance. In his view, the question of stability of attendance was not a legal matter but a matter of professional attitude amongst members of TPB.

12. Mr Ronald ARCULLI disagreed with the view that an increase in the quorum of meetings would solve the problem. He also did not accept that the issue was not a legal matter. He said that the present way in which TPB operated opened a loophole for vote rigging. Mr NG Leung-sing shared Mr Ronald ARCULLI's concern about different membership in examining and voting on planning applications. Mr NG was also concerned about lengthy time taken by TPB in considering certain planning applications. In his view, whilst enhanced transparency and public participation were necessary, the Administration should at the same time be conferred with greater power and responsibility to decide on planning applications. This would expedite the planning process to the benefit of the whole community.

13. Dr Raymond HO agreed on the need for enhancing independence and transparency of TPB. However, he pointed out that an increase in the quorum per se might not achieve the objective of enhancing independence because official members might out-number non-official members. Dr HO opined that to ensure high and stable attendance of TPB members at meetings , it was important that only persons who would and could commit themselves to the work of TPB should be appointed as members. While agreeing that TPB members should declare interest if they were connected to any of the planning applications under consideration, Dr HO queried whether this was adequate as far as the transparency of operation of TPB was concerned. PAS/PEL(P) said that an increase in the quorum of TPB meetings would enhance participation. Presently, the attendance of TPB members at meetings was recorded, including the time of arrival and departure. There would be express provisions for declaration of interest by TPB members under the Bill. Enhancement of the transparency of operation of TPB should be considered by TPB when drawing up its rules of procedure. The Chairman said that it was a long established arrangement whereby TPB members who had an interest in a planning application would not receive the relevant papers nor attend the meeting at the time when the application was considered.

14. Responding to Dr Raymond HO's enquiry on whether TPB meetings would be open to the public, PAS/PEL(P) said that this was not so provided in the Bill. A recently completed consultancy study which looked into all the business of Planning Department and TPB had not made such a proposal given that information exchanged at TPB meetings might be commercially sensitive.

15. Dr Raymond HO enquired if representatives from the relevant professional institutes would be appointed to TPB in their official capacity. PAS/PEL(P) said that all members of TPB were appointed by the Chief Executive on individual capacity. Dr HO's suggestion of appointing representatives from professional institutes to TPB would be considered when the current term of appointment expired.

II Tseung Kwan O Development at Area 137
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1010/98-99(03))

16. Mr WONG Yung-kan enquired if any other reclamation projects in Tseung Kwan O (TKO) were under planning apart from Stage 2 Reclamation at Area 137. The Principal Assistant Secretary the Planning, Environment and Lands (Environment) (PAS/PEL(E)) said that the next reclamation project at TKO would be the TKO Town Centre Phase 3 Stage 2 project which was expected to start by the end of 1999. There would also be a small scale reclamation project at TKO Area 131 to provide land for the reprovisioning of a cargo handling area to make way for South East Kowloon Development.

17. Mr WONG Yung-kan further enquired about the environmental impact on marine ecology and fisheries of the proposed project. He was concerned that the proposed reclamation would affect the nearby mariculture operations in Tung Lung Chau and Po Doi O. The Government Civil Engineers (Project Management) Civil Engineering Department (GCE) said that an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) study which included ecological assessment had been undertaken on the whole of TKO Area 137 site and no particular concern was identified. PAS/PEL(E) added that the results of EIA showed that Stage 1 Reclamation which was close to the mariculture operations in Joss House Bay would not have a serious impact on mariculture operations. Stage 2 Reclamation which would be much further away from the mariculture zones would have negligible impact on mariculture operations. In response to Mr WONG Yung-kan, the Administration would provide the results of the EIA study for members' reference.Admin.

18. Dr Raymond HO said that he supported the designation of TKO Area 137 Stage 2 Reclamation as a public filling area as it would relieve the shortage of public filling capacity and prolong the life of landfills. He enquired about the current position of other public filling areas like Tuen Mun Area 38 and Pak Shek Kok. PAS/PEL(E) advised that when providing outlets for construction and demolition (C & D) material, there were a number of issues that need to be addressed. One of them was the total capacity versus the total amount of waste material expected to be produced. Another would be the convenience of the filling location as this would have an impact on traffic and transportation costs. As part of the C & D material management strategy, the Administration would ensure that there were sufficient total capacity and convenient locations for the dumping of material. Ideally the location of the filling areas should be close to the source of generation of material, but the problem could be solved by marine access using barging points.

19. As regards the current position of other filling areas, PAS/PEL(E) advised that the Tuen Mun Area 38 Stage 1 Reclamation was expected to be filled around the end of the year. GCE added that Pak Shek Kok Stage 3 Reclamation had been advanced and would proceed ahead of Stage 2 phase 2 because of the need to provide land for housing development. Stage 3 was scheduled to commence filling later in the year and should be completed by the end of 2000. Upon completion of Stage 3, Stage 2 Phase 2 reclamation would continue and the overall reclamation at Pak Shek Kok was expected to be completed in 2004. In response to Dr Raymond HO and Mr WONG Yung-kan, the Administration agreed to provide a paper on the Public Filling Programme and a map showing all the reclamation projects in TKO.

(Post-meeting note: Information on the Public Filling Programme and a list of reclamation projects in TKO were provided by the Administration and circulated to members vide LC Paper Nos. CB(1)1129 and 1116/98-99 respectively.)

20. Mr CHENG Kar-foo enquired if the existing landfills were running out of capacity and about the availability of other public filling areas after the completion of Stage 1 Reclamation. PAS/PEL(E) said that the Waste Reduction Framework Plan which was launched in November 1998 indicated that existing landfills would run out of capacity in 2015. If the current situation and forecast of waste growth continued, 80% of the C & D material generated by Hong Kong's industries would be diverted away from landfills, either by disposal at public filling areas or through waste reduction by on-site sorting and reuse. If a more ambitious target of diverting 84% of C and D material away from landfills could be achieved, the life of landfills could be further extended to 2019. However, the failure to maintain or increase the amount of C & D material to be diverted would significantly reduce the lifespan of landfills. In the worst scenario where there were no outlets for the waste material, the landfills would be filled up within five or six years. A steady supply of public filling areas was therefore necessary.

21. Addressing Dr Raymond HO's query on the cost of the proposed works, GCE said that the estimated cost was about $438.2 million at December 1997 prices. Adding up inflation cost, the cost would be expected to increase to $540 million in money-of-the-day (MOD)prices.

22. Mr LEE Wing-tat expressed concern about the extent of reclamation at TKO. He enquired if the coastline depicted in Annex A to the information paper would be the final coastline. GCE said that he believed that the plan as shown would be the final coastline for the foreseeable future because an indentation at Fat Tong Chau was needed for larger vessels for deep waterfront industries (DWI).

23. As regards Mr CHENG Kar-foo's enquiry on the technical reasons for proceeding with reclamation from the south side (Stage 1) to the north side (Stage 2) of the site, GCE advised that the southern part of the site was identified for potential hazardous installation uses and was considered more urgently required. There was a need to maintain marine access to the South East New Territories (SENT) Landfill by barge at the northern side until the road network was built to serve the Landfill. Upon completion of the road network, marine access was no longer required. If not for the marine access, the whole area could be reclaimed in one stage.

24. On the question as to whether Stage 2 Reclamation would provide the only site for DWI development, GCE said that the Port and Airport Development Strategy Study completed in October 1989 had identified the site as suitable for the development of DWI because of its deep water bay. As such, there was no need for dredging for fairways. Such depth of water could not be found in Sai Kung and elsewhere.

25. Mr CHENG Kar-foo sought information on development at TKO Area 137. He stressed the need for co-ordination in land use planning, particularly in TKO where an industrial estate, a landfill and residential development stood side by side. PAS/PEL(P) advised that the TKO Industrial Estate and the TKO Area 137 would be served by the Western Coast Road which would provide direct access to East Kowloon. Stage 2 Reclamation would initially serve as a public filling area. Upon filling of the area, the land so formed would be used for industrial purpose. The whole industrial area in TKO would be separated from residential development and would be served by the Western Coast Road. This was clear evidence of co-ordination in development at TKO Area 137.

26. Mr CHENG Kar-foo further enquired about the transport arrangements for TKO and how these would be co-ordinated with development in the area. PAS/PEL(P) replied in response that the Western Coast Road would be expected to be completed in 2006-7. He recognized that pending the completion of the Western Coast Road, the traffic situation was not entirely satisfactory because the traffic generated in connection with the use of the TKO Industrial Estate might cause congestion to a certain extent. Stage 2 Reclamation would be completed in 2002 and industrial development on the land so formed would then follow. There would not be much traffic until then. Moreover, he assured members that the traffic impact from the public filling areas would be insignificant because transportation of most of the fill would be by sea.

27. The Chairman declared interest as the Chairman of TKO Industrial Estate. He echoed Mr CHENG Kar-foo's concern about the interface between transport and other development in TKO even if the Western Coast Road could be completed in time. SPEL reckoned the need to prioritize works items and to tie in the development of transport network with other development. He said that the construction of Western Coast Road would not be a simple project given its complexity. Members agreed to refer the matter to the Transport Panel for detailed discussion.(Post-meeting note : The development of transport infrastructure to tie in with TKO Area 137 Development project was discussed by the Transport Panel at its meeting on 23 April 1999.)

28. Concluding the discussion, the Chairman requested the Administration to provide the information requested by members before submitting the proposal to the Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) for funding approval.

III Tsuen Wan Bay Further Reclamation (TWBFR)
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1010/98-99(04))

29. Noting the strong objection raised by Tsuen Wan residents, in particular the residents of Belvedere Garden, Mr LEE Wing-tat enquired about the justification for TWBFR in terms of housing and transport needs. PAS/PEL(P) said in response that the residents' main reason for objecting TWBFR was that the seaview of the housing development along the existing shorelines would be blocked by new development to be built at the TWBFR site. To address these objections, the Administration had revised the layout of the TWBFR project. He referred members to the map at Annex A to the information paper which showed that a long strip of amenity space would be provided to separate the existing residential development from the reclaimed area. As regards transport arrangements, PAS/PEL(P) advised that the Administration intended to include in the TWBFR project the construction of a tunnel bypass to serve the reclaimed area. This would also relieve traffic congestion at Tsuen Wan. PAS/PEL(P) further advised that TWBFR was one of the urban Strategic Growth Areas identified in the Territorial Development Strategy Review to provide land to meet the growing housing needs of the territory. It was planned to produce a total of 11,000 flats to accommodate about 30,000 people. The housing development would facilitate the decanting of some 19,000 people living in 280 old and dilapidated buildings in Tsuen Wan town centre which was expected to undergo redevelopment in the coming years.

30. Mr LEE Wing-tat queried the need to earmark land in TWBFR for commercial use given the over-provision of commercial land territory-wide. His view was shared by Dr Raymond HO who pointed out that the planned provision of one-tenth of the reclaimed area for commercial development was excessive. The District Planning Officer (Tsuen Wan, Kwai Tsing and Sham Shui Po), Planning Department (DPO/TKS) said that land had been reserved for commercial development around the Tsuen Wan West Station of the West Rail. He clarified that the area coloured red on the map had been rezoned as a Comprehensive Development Area which would have mixed development under the revised draft outline zoning plan for Tsuen Wan.

31. Referring to the map, Mr LEE Wing-tat noted with concern the small size of the land earmarked for public rental housing which would be the main decanting site for urban redevelopment as compared with the land dedicated to Private Sector Participation Scheme and private residential development. He said that the Democratic Part was consulting Tsuen Wan residents on TWBFR and had reservations about the project at this stage.

32. Mr WONG Yung-kan expressed concern that the construction of a seawall of 1,500 metres at Tsuen Wan Bay might aggravate the reflection of waves. The Chief Engineer (Tsuen Wan), New Territories West Development Office, Territory Development Department (CE/TW) said that the Administration was well aware of the potential problem of wave reflection and would ensure that the seawall would not cause any adverse effects. The proposed seawall would be of a sloping type which would not reflect waves. The engineering aspect of the seawall had been studied in detail and the question of avoidance of wave reflection had been taken into account in the preliminary design and would be further looked into at the detailed design stage.

33. Mr WONG Yung-kan said that the fishing industry was opposed to the relocation of the Dangerous Goods Anchorage (DGA) to Tang Lung Chau as this would pose a potential danger to fishermen fishing in the area. CE/TW said that in order to carry out the TWBFR, it was necessary to relocate the DGA. A study done years ago under the auspices of the Marine Department indicated that the site near Ma Wan and Tang Lung Chau was the best site for relocating the DGA. A detailed engineering and environmental study had been carried out on the relocation site. The terminology "DGA" by itself might give rise to concern to some people, but in actual case, the DGA merely provided an anchorage to fuel carrying vessels and was not associated with explosives or anything of that nature. These fuel carrying vessels would be moving around the harbour at various times of the day whether or not the DGA was relocated. As a result of the relocation, the risk at the Rambler Channel would decrease but that in the Ma Wan area would inevitably increase slightly. A detailed environmental impact assessment was conducted and it concluded that the risk and environmental impacts associated with the new DGA at Tang Lung Chau were within acceptable limits. The possible exception was that if there was a major collision involving oil spill in the area under certain conditions of wind and tide, there was a potential for some oil spillage to reach certain sensitive receivers. In less time the Marine Department would instigate oil control measures. However, the risk of a collision occurring would be extremely low because there were few large vessels using the DGA. Moreover, it would be under very rare and adverse conditions of wind and tide would oil move to sensitive receivers in less than two hours. These kinds of conditions only occurred in hundreds or even thousands of years' intervals. The hazard assessment had been looked at by the Environmental Protection Department and they also agreed that the overall risks involved were within acceptable limits.

34. Mr WONG Yung-kan said that he had paid a visit to the proposed relocation site for the DGA with the Marine Department. He pointed out that Tang Lung Chau was a very busy channel with many vessels moving along its fairways. Problems would arise if one of these vessels broke their anchorage and collided with another vessel. He disagreed with the view that such a collision would be rare. There would be serious consequences if the collision resulted in oil spillage, particularly in areas around Ma Wan where water currents were strong and spillage would easily reach sensitive receivers within half an hour. He said that the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong had reservations about the proposed relocation of the DGA to Tang Lung Chau and he urged the Administration to consider finding alternative sites for the relocation.

35. CE/TW assured members that the location chosen for the DGA would not intrude into the fairways, since one of the design parameters was to ensure sufficient manoeuvring space for the exit from and entrance to the DGA. Regarding the concern about the breaking of moorings which led to the drifting of vessels along the fairways, CE/TW said that this was virtually impossible because the new DGA would be surrounded by a substantial stone constructed breakwater built to protect the vessels within the DGA from wave action during storm. Therefore, in the unlikely event of breaking of anchorage, the vessel would only collide with the inner walls of the DGA and would not drift into the fairways. The more likely event would be the collision of vessels during manoeuvring but these risks would be within acceptable limits.

36. PAS/PEL(P) added that the Marine Department had conducted a territory-wide search for the best site to relocate the DGA. Tang Lung Chau was considered the most suitable site because the risk and the environmental impacts associated with the new DGA at the proposed location were within acceptable limits. The relocation would improve marine safety in the Rambler Channel as a number of slow moving barges and dangerous goods vessels would stop using the Channel. This would reduce the chances of collision, the result of which would be far more serious should it happen at the relatively narrow but busy Rambler Channel.

37. Responding to the Chairman's enquiry about the proposed arrangements for the exit from and entrance to Tang Lung Chau, CE/TW said that the location of the breakwater had to be carefully chosen to fit in with the existing fairways, taking into account the effects on the hydraulic flow through the harbour. The whole harbour flow was quite sensitive to the location of the breakwater. A detailed hydraulic study had been conducted including the cumulative effect on the whole harbour to see how the DGA shape could fit in. The location was kept further clear of the fairways to the east of the breakwater, thereby allowing more manoeuvring space between that and the adjacent fairways on the south or south-west side. If the entrance and exit were located at the south or south-west side, there would be less manoeuvring space.

38. Dr Raymond HO suggested providing a coast road along the new shorelines to facilitate traffic at TWBFR. In response, CE/TW said that the traffic impact assessment study had showed that the existing Tsuen Wan Road would be overloaded not only as a result of the TWBFR, but would also be affected by the West Rail and other development. The study had proposed the construction of a tunnel bypass linking the Old Castle Peak Road on the west corner of the reclamation site to the existing Tsuen Wan Road on the north-east. A feasibility study was recently completed on this proposal and confirmed the need for the upgrading of Tsuen Wan Road. A funding application for the project would be submitted to the Public Works Subcommittee for consideration. The project would essentially consist of a tunnel bypass on the west side of the reclamation connecting Tsuen Wan Road which would act as a distributor and would be widened to become a two-lane road. There would also be improvements at the junctions and the slip roads. CE/TW said that Dr HO's suggestion of constructing a road along the coast would give rise to noise problems. Furthermore, the underground drainage culverts would make it impossible to have a submerged road along the coast. The present proposal was considered more cost-effective because it would facilitate the overall traffic flow in Tsuen Wan and relieve traffic congestion.

39. Dr Raymond HO opined that instead of investing on the upgrading of Tsuen Wan Road, the money spent on the provision of a new coast road, similar to the coast road at Wan Chai North, would be more useful in relieving traffic congestion. To reduce noise impact from the coast road, the residential development could be positioned further away from it. CE/TW said that the feasibility study had looked at a number of alternatives, including constructing a tunnel bypass along the coast but the idea was dropped in favour of the present proposal which was found to be more cost-effective.

40. Mr James TO opined that there was public concern over the sale of land which, at the time of sale, was by the seafront, but was later become hinterland because of Government's continued reclamation plans. Owners of development on the land felt being cheated because the seaview was blocked. PAS/PEL(P) said that as far as TWBFR was concerned, the Government had designed the uses of land in such a way as to avoid blocking the seaview of existing development as far as possible.

41. Mr James TO further pointed out that although the Administration kept saying that TWBFR would provide decanting space to facilitate urban renewal, so far it had not made a clear commitment. As such, the relationship between TWBFR and urban renewal could hardly be established. PAS/PEL(P) responded that it was not an established practice to commit a land formation project for a specific urban renewal programme as this would deprive flexibility in development. However, it was not unusual for a piece of land so formed to link with nearby sites to facilitate urban renewal. The issue would be considered by the future Urban Renewal Authority. Mr James TO remarked that the Administration must live up to its undertaking concerning urban renewal in planning reclamation.

42. The Chairman pointed out the deficiency of the present symmetrical design of TWBFR in that a network of roads cut across the proposed residential areas. The Chairman and Mr James TO called for improvement in the design to allow flexibility in development, for example earmarking open spaces on the western side of the site where residential development was now concentrated. SPEL said that the Administration was considering a new planning approach to segregate human and traffic flow and to maximize the view and aesthetics of a site.

IV. Main drainage channels for Yuen Long and Kam Tin Stage 2 - Kam Tin Road to Tai Kek
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1010/98-99(02))

43. Members noted that the capital cost of the project was about $460 million in MOD prices and that the project would be submitted to PWSC for funding approval at its meeting on 14 April 1999.

44. Noting that the contract administration and site supervision of the project would be entrusted to the Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation (KCRC), Dr Raymond HO questioned the appropriateness of such an arrangement since KCRC was expert at constructing and managing rail systems, not drainage projects. The Project Manager (New Territories North Development Office), Territory Development Department said that the early stages of West Rail Project involved mainly civil engineering works. These were closely related to the river training works of the drainage channel project. The Administration would ensure that the terms of the works contract entrusted to KCRC were fair and reasonable.

V. Any Other Business

Creation of a supernumerary post for the Land Registry for the implementation of the Strategic Change Plan
(LC Paper No. CB(1)1022/98-99)

45. The Chairman informed that the subject was raised for discussion by Mr Ronald ARCULLI who had left the meeting owing to other commitment. Mr ARCULLI wrote a note to say that he had no objection to the proposed creation of the post, but this should not be taken to mean that he supported the new land titles system. The Land Registrar (LR) said that the supernumerary post had very little to do with the land titles system. It concerned mainly with the Central Registration System (CRS) and new information technology. The Panel had been briefed on CRS. Both members and users supported the implementation of CRS. To implement the Strategic Change Plan which included, inter alia, CRS, a great deal of restructuring was needed.

46. Dr TANG Siu-tong requested to put on record that he did not support the land titles system.

47. The meeting ended at 12:45 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
17 June 1999