Legislative Council

LC Paper No. CB(1)819/98-99
(These minutes have been
seen by the Administration)


LegCo Panel on Planning, Lands and Works

Minutes of special meeting held on Thursday, 29 October 1998, at 4:30 pm in Conference Room A of the Legislative Council Building

Members present :

Hon Edward HO Sing-tin, JP (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 LAU Kong-wah
Hon TAM Yiu-chung, JP

Non-Panel members attending :

Hon Fred LI Wing-ming
Hon Christine LOH
Hon CHAN Yuen-han
Hon CHAN Kam-lam

Members absent :

Hon WONG Yung-kan
Hon LAU Wong-fat, GBS, JP
Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo

Public officers attending:
Mr Andrew WELLS
Deputy Secretary, Housing Bureau

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

Project Manager (Kowloon)
Territory Development Department

Mr Sing LAU
District Planning Officer (Kowloon) Planning Department

Mr James CHAN
Chief Engineer
Territory Development Department
By invitation :

Hong Kong Institute of Architects

Dr HO Tao

Mr LAM Wo-hei
Board of Local Affairs

Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors


Mr LAU Tak, Francis
Local Affairs Convenor
General Practice Committee

Hong Kong Institution of Engineers

Ir Dr LUK Wang-kwong, John
Senior Vice-President

Ir SUEN Kai-cheung, Timothy
Committee member of Civil Division

Ir LEE Wing-woo, Maurice
Committee member of Environmental Division

Hong Kong Institute of Planners

Mr LAM Sui-lo, Andrew
Vice President

Mr LEE Tak-keung
Honorary Secretary

Ms HO Siu-fong, Betty
Convenor (Public Affairs Committee)

Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects

Public Affairs Committee

The Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong

Ms June TENG
General Secretary

Mr Andrew CHAN
Planning Consultant

Hong Kong Conservation Photography Foundation

Mr Edward STOKES

Hong Kong Yachting Association

Mr Karl C KWOK

Hong Kong Windsurfing Association

Mr Jacky W K WONG

Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club

Mr Lowell G CHANG
(Past President of Hong Kong Yachting Association)

Friends of the Earth

Mr CHENG Luk-ki
Campaigns Coordinator

Society for Protection of the Harbour
Mr Winston K S CHU

Mr Jeff T K TSE
Legal Adviser

Mr David ENSOR
Member Clerk in attendance :
Miss Odelia LEUNG,
Chief Assistant Secretary (1)1
Staff in attendance :
Mrs Mary TANG,
Senior Assistant Secretary (1)2
I South East Kowloon Development

The Chairman informed that this meeting was devoted to receiving views from building professions and green groups on the proposed South East Kowloon Development (SEKD).

Meeting with professional institutes

2. The Chairman invited each of the following professional institutes to give a succinct account of their views on the SEKD.

(a) Hong Kong Institute of Architects (HKIA)
(LC Paper No. CB(1)353/98-99(01)(a))

3. Dr HO Tao stated the objection of HKIA to the proposed SEKD. He said that in evaluating the proposal, three aspects had to be considered, namely, whether the development was a sustainable one; whether it would benefit Hong Kong in the long run; and whether it would improve the quality of life of Hong Kong residents. With the use of transparencies, Dr HO apprised members of the effects of proposed reclamation for the SEKD. He said that the extent of reclamation as proposed would have serious adverse impact on the environment, the aesthetics and the general well-being of the Victoria Harbour. Hong Kong was renowned for its world famous Victoria Harbour and the proposed reclamation was likened to reclaiming the West Lake of Hang Zhou. He failed to see the need for reclaiming part of Kowloon Bay to make way for the Metropolitan Park since the body of water in Kowloon Bay was itself a natural "open space" which could be used for recreational purposes if properly treated and maintained.

4. According to Dr HO, the proposed development above the existing Kai Tak runway and the apron area was besieged with problems. The solid rock filled foundation below the Kai Tak runway made piling almost impossible. Furthermore, the soil conditions of the runway and the apron area had been affected seriously by leakage of jet fuel oil accumulated over the years. As such, the area was extremely hazardous for extensive development involving underground construction. The treatment proposed by the consultants of the Environmental Protection Department had not followed rigorous standards. Moreover, the proposed plan did not attempt to resolve the pollution problem of the Kai Tak Nullah.

5. Dr HO said that the primary objective of the proposed development was to create isolated land parcels for sale rather than to provide a sustainable development. The future outlook of the area as proposed would be similar to the existing nearby housing estates. A target population of 320,000 in the proposed development would aggravate traffic and environmental problems in the already congested area. Furthermore, the proposed development which would require 18 years to complete could hardly meet the immediate needs of the community nor could it be expected to meet future housing and transport requirements which were subject to change.

6. Concluding his presentation, Dr HO said that the proposed SEKD was unsustainable and extremely costly. A time frame of 18 years for completion of the whole development was unacceptable. The proposed development would create a characterless waterfront image and showed a lack of planning vision for the 21st Century. Dr HO called for a more innovative and environmental friendly alternative to develop the Kai Tak area.

(b) Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors(HKIS)
(LC Paper No. CB(1)353/98-99(01)(b))

7. Mr Roger NISSIM said that HKIS believed that the following points should be addressed prior to preparing a revised plan for SEKD -

  1. Land transport and land allocation for roads

    Despite the objective of housing an estimated population of 320,000, there had been no mention in the plan about the provision of a rail system except the zoning of a railway depot. HKIS considered the provision of a rail system essential for an urban development of this scale. Furthermore, of the 600 hectares of land to be produced through reclamation, one-third would be dedicated to building roads. This was a disproportionate allocation of land for transportation and would need to be rationalised to incorporate the provision of a rail system. The land transport system and the road allocation system were interrelated and had to be addressed in a more comprehensive manner.

  2. Land allocation for commercial and residential uses

    HKIS considered the proposed designation of commercial sites unsatisfactory as this had not taken into account the need for accessibility. Commercial sites should best be centered around railway stations for easy access. On the residential side, Mr NISSIM said that the majority of the sites under zoning were reserved for either public housing, Home Ownership Schemes or Private Sector Participation Schemes. Only two of the 14 sites had been zoned for private housing. This represented a gross imbalance between provision of public and private housing. The proposed residential mix should be reviewed in the light of the prevailing market conditions.

  3. Provision of open spaces

    HKIS had strong reservations about the proposal to reclaim a large area of the harbour for the provision of open spaces. The harbour already served a valuable open space function and could not be replaced. The maximisation of the harbour reclamation would have deleterious effects on the aesthetics of Hong Kong. Nevertheless, there were more justifications for the extent of reclamation proposed in SEKD than in the Central and Wanchai Reclamation project but the scale of reclamation and land use planning should be further studied.

  4. Public consultation

    HKIS was concerned about the lack of a proper consultation process under the current planning legislation and suggested the introduction of a better and more transparent planning process to minimize confrontation with the public.
(c) Hong Kong Institution of Engineers
(LC Paper No. CB(1)367/98-99(01)(a))

8. Ir Dr John LUK stated that HKIE basically supported the proposed SEKD but had reservations over the extent of reclamation. He stressed that harbour conservation must be a major consideration in establishing the extent of reclamation. The proposed reclamation on the northern side of Kai Tak was justified but technical problems had to be resolved. HKIE however considered the proposed extent of reclamation on the southern side excessive. The provision of a Metropolitan Park was a good idea but this would have to be reviewed in the light of the need to conserve the harbour. The proposed SEKD would improve the traffic conditions in the whole Kowloon area, in particular on the eastern side. As for land provision, HKIE was of the view that land should be released in a stepwise manner to meet market demands. The existing Kai Tak Nullah should be decked while the contaminated sediments should be treated. HKIE also recommended designating the industrial zone to the south of the Hoi Bun Road for high technology industry and considering redeveloping the sites along Hoi Bun Road. In addition, decanting sites for urban renewal projects in the surrounding areas such as Kwun Tong, Kowloon City, and To Kwa Wan should also be provided.

9. In conclusion, Ir Dr Luk said that the information shown in the draft Kai Tak (South) and (North) Outline Zoning Plans (OZPs) was inadequate. There was no mention of the provision of a mass transit transport system which was considered essential for such a massive development.

(d) Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP)
(LC Paper No. CB(1)367/98-99(01)(b))

10. Mr Andrew LAM said that HKIP generally supported the planning intention of developing the South East Kowloon area. However, some areas needed to be further looked into. Mr LAM stressed the importance of public consultation in the plan making process. He said that had there been wider consultation, strategic issues such as the extent of reclamation, the need for the scale of the secondary commercial node, etc. should have largely been settled and would not need to be discussed at this stage. He urged for the early introduction of the Town Planning (Amendment) Bill to make publication of the planning studies mandatory for public inspection and comments.

11. Mr LAM said that the two draft OZPs of the proposed development had not showed a strong physical linkage and integration between the new and old urban areas and that further thought should be given to the renewal of old urban areas. While supporting the Metropolitan Park concept, HKIP considered it necessary to enhance its accessibility to enable members of the public to enjoy the open views of the waterfront.  As regards road alignment, Mr LAM said that more extensive application of environmental friendly road networks should be explored. He called on the Administration to review the need to proceed with the Kowloon Bay Reclamation Phase II under stage 4 of SEKD.

(e) Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects (HKILA)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 381/98-99(01))

12. Mr Peter DUNCAN referred members to the submission of HKILA for details. He said that the OZPs for SEKD should be guided by a vision to create a unique urban waterfront, integrating urban and landscape design objectives and control mechanisms.

(f) Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong (REDA)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 353/98-99(01)(c))

13. Miss June TENG briefly highlighted the salient points of REDA's submission. She said that since the proposed development would be carried out in the 21st Century and would have serious implications on the future of Hong Kong, REDA considered it premature to make proposal to develop South East Kowloon before the completion of the Study on Sustainable Development for the 21st Century. REDA had reservations about the proposed extent of reclamation and was concerned about the traffic and environmental impact associated with the intake of a population of 320,000 at SEKD. REDA proposed to reduce substantially the area zoned as government and community sites as well as open spaces to avoid unnecessary reclamation.

Discussion with professional institutes

14. Responding to members' enquiry on the way to treat the contaminated sediments along the shoreline of Kowloon Bay, Dr HO Tao of HKIA said that these could be treated by biochemical methods but the process would be time-consuming. Ir Maurice LEE of HKIE said that the contaminated sediments should not be biochemically treated in situ, lest the shoreline of Kowloon Bay would be converted into a sewage treatment plant. He suggested that the sediments should be removed for treatment elsewhere.

15. As regards the provision of the open channel in the proposed development, Ir Dr John LUK of HKIE said that it was technically feasible for the open channel to be designed as a box culvert. In his view, the existing nullah should also be decked.

16. Hon CHAN Yuen-han considered it necessary to coordinate the redevelopment of the existing industrial areas with the planning of SEKD and sought the professions' view on how this could be achieved. Mr Andrew LAM of HKIP said that he was aware that the Administration was conducting studies on the redevelopment of old industrial districts. He considered that the future Urban Renewal Authority should not only confine the task to redeveloping residential and commercial districts, but also industrial districts. As substantial financial resources were required for renewal of industrial districts, this would not be possible without Government support. Mr LAM further added that with the relocation of industries to the Mainland, a lot of industrial buildings were left vacant. Consideration should be given to redeveloping these sites for commercial uses.

17. In response to members' concern on viability of piling over the Kai Tak runway, Ir Timothy SUEN of HKIE said that piling was technically feasible but would incur high costs because of the solid rock filled foundation of the site.

18. As to the availability of any alternative plans to develop South East Kowloon, Dr HO Tao and Mr LAM Wo-hei said that while HKIA did not have an alternative to develop south East Kowloon on hand, consideration could be given to working out a proposal in about eight weeks' time. Mr LAM reiterated the objection of HKIA to the reclaiming of vast areas of the Victoria Harbour for the provision of roads and open spaces for recreational purposes.

19. Noting that all other building professions except HKIE expressed reservations about SEKD, Hon Ronald ARCULLI sought clarification on HKIE's stance, and enquired whether it was technically feasible to remove the Kai Tak runway, leaving it to the open sea to perform environmental correction. In response, Ir Dr John LUK said that HKIE considered the proposed reclamation on the northern side of the development area useful as it would link up the runway and the existing apron area. A certain extent of reclamation on the southern side was also needed to resolve the problem caused by stagnant waters. Based on these considerations, HKIE supported the proposed development. Nevertheless, HKIE concurred that conservation of the harbour should be a major consideration. While it was technically feasible to remove the runway, the pros and cons should be carefully assessed.

20. Hon LEE Wing-tat was concerned that funding approval for the site investigation and detailed design works of the North Apron Area of Kai Tak Airport (NAKTA) would pre-empt subsequent development in South East Kowloon. He sought the deputations' views on whether the first stage of development at NAKTA could be a "stand-alone" development. Mr Andrew CHAN of REDA said that Hong Kong would be taking a retrogressive step if it reverted to approving development on a piecemeal basis. He stressed the importance of an overall planning strategy for the entire development. Dr HO Tao of HKIA echoed this view and said that an overall planning strategy would help ensure the sustainability of development. Mr NISSIM of HKIS also supported the provision of one comprehensive development plan rather than several plans implemented by stages. Mr Andrew LAM of HKIP said that it was technically feasible but strategically undesirable to develop the area in stages.

Meeting with other concerned groups

(a) Hong Kong Conservation Photography Foundation (HKCPF)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 353/98-99(01)(e))

21. Mr Edward STOKES stated that HKCPF did not oppose reclamation per se. However, it believed that every reclamation should be judged by its potential gains and losses, taking account of existing natural waterways. The sheer extent of reclamation in Hong Kong today was unsustainable. He called for an overhaul of land resumption laws and the provision of housing in the vast area of flat land in the New Territories outside the country parks.

22. Mr STOKES briefly took members through HKCPF's the submission, highlighting the following main points -
  1. The overall time needed for completion of SEKD would render Kowloon Bay as a building site for almost a generation;

  2. The 50-hectare Metropolitan Park indicated a flawed planning mentality; and

  3. The provision of 40% of reclaimed land for building roads was excessive and would create further transport problems.
23. With the aid of slides, Mr STOKES then showed members the aesthetics of Victoria Harbour and how it would be affected if reclamation to the extent proposed was implemented.

(b) Water sports organizations
(Joint submission from Hong Kong Yachting Association, Hong Kong Windsurfing Association and Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club at LC Paper No. CB(1) 383/98-99(02))

24. Mr Karl KWOK of the Hong Kong Yachting Association said that quite a lot of people in Hong Kong had been making recreational use of the Victoria Harbour for water sports. It would be a pity if Hong Kong did not treasure the attributes of the harbour.

25. Mr Lowell CHANG of the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club added that there were about 60 boats participating in the weekly race. More people would wish to participate if the water in the harbour was cleaner. Sailing would be restricted if the harbour was further narrowed by the proposed reclamation at Kowloon Bay. Furthermore, since the wind in Hong Kong was normally southeasterly, sailboats leaving the Typhoon Shelter in Causeway Bay would need to beat against the wind to get out of the harbour. Without the space in Kowloon Bay, the boats would need to tack up the shipping channels more frequently.

26. Mr Jacky WONG of the Hong Kong Windsurfing Association said that windsurfers were not presently using the harbour because of its filth. To promote windsurfing, it would be ideal to have a windsurfer's centre in the harbour to enable more people to participate in the sport.

(c) Friends of the Earth (FOE)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 367/98-99(01)c)

27. Mr CHENG Luk-ki said that FOE was gravely concerned about the environmental impact of reclamation and the land use planning associated with SEKD. FOE held the view that acquiring land through reclamation should be a last resort after all other alternatives had been exhausted. In undertaking reclamation works, the Administration should avoid dredging in ecologically sensitive areas like Sai Kung. Since the sediments in the seabed of Kowloon Bay were seriously contaminated with heavy metals, any activity causing disturbance should be avoided. Mr CHENG was also concerned about the visual impact and odour nuisance caused by the open channel to residents in the area and users of the Metropolitan Park. Noting that 40% of the total planning areas in SEKD were designated for roads and transport, Mr CHENG considered it a better approach to build a mass transit system than road networks to serve the densely populated areas in East and West Kowloon. As regards land contamination, Mr CHENG drew members' attention to the potential hazards of zoning the NAKTA as residential areas since the underground soil and water at the site were contaminated.

(d) Society for Protection of the Harbour Limited (the Society)
(LC Paper No. CB(1) 367/98-99(01)e)

28. Hon Christine LOH declared interest as the Deputy Chairman of the Society.

29. Mr Winston CHU stressed the adverse impact of the proposed reclamation on the aesthetics of Hong Kong and on tourism which was a major source of income for the people of Hong Kong. Mr CHU referred members to the position paper issued by the Hong Kong Tourist Association in September 1996 which set out its concern on the tarnishing of Hong Kong's image by the various land reclamation and infrastructural projects that were changing the appearance of the Victoria Harbour. According to a recent research undertaken by the Hong Kong Tourist Association, there would be a growing demand for facilities for passenger shipping from visiting cruise liners. The development of a cruise centre as pledged by the Chief Executive in his policy address in 1997 would enhance Hong Kong's position as a passenger shipping centre in the Far East. Mr CHU was concerned that if the proposed reclamation went ahead, it would be difficult to find suitable sites to accommodate the new cruise terminal. Mr CHU objected to SEKD on the grounds that it lacked vision and foresight. He said that reclaiming the harbour for the sake of providing land for housing was not a sustainable means of developing Hong Kong.

Meeting with the Administration
(LC Paper No. CB(1)383/98-99(01))

30. Members noted that since the written submissions of deputations were received shortly before the meeting, the Administration would not comment on the views expressed and would provide a written response later. Admin.

31. With the Chairman's consent, the Principal Assistant Secretary for Planning, Environment and Lands (PAS/PEL) explained the information paper which addressed the concerns raised by members at the Panel meetings on 10 and 17 September 1998 and the Public Works Subcommittee (PWSC) meeting on 23 September 1998 regarding the early development package at Kai Tak Airport. PAS/PEL said that the four development packages of SEKD would each have its own infrastructural and supporting facilities to serve the target population. The funding approval for site investigation and detailed design works for NAKTA would not pre-empt the decision on final land use and the scale of reclamation in Kowloon Bay. PAS/PEL stressed that site investigation had to be undertaken jointly with the design works because they were inter-related and that the proposed project would not involve any construction works. To meet the objective of the first population intake by 2003 in SEKD, it was necessary to start the proposed works soon. Noting members' concern about the risk of abortive design works, the Administration had critically reviewed the proposed scope of works and had decided to trim part of the works in the southern end of the development area. A slightly revised scheme for the proposed works was tabled at the meeting.

32. The Deputy Secretary for Housing (DS/H) said that he was seriously concerned at the implications of any delay of SEKD for housing production. DS/H said that although some technical and planning issues had been identified in SEKD, the Administration was confident that these could be resolved. In fact, problems of a similar nature were encountered in the development of new towns such as Shatin and Tuen Mun where vast areas of land were formed through reclamation for the provision of housing. While the Administration would continue to find suitable land for the provision of housing, such as in the New Territories as suggested by some deputations. SEKD had been identified for housing development and the works had to proceed by phases. The site investigation and detailed design works for the first development package at NAKTA had to commence soon in order to meet the first population intake by 2003. Any delay in the proposed works would have serious impact on housing supply in East Kowloon. This would not only affect the supply of land for private housing but also lengthen the waiting time of households on the Waiting List for allocation of a public rental unit.

33. The Chairman pointed out that the Panel did not object to the provision of housing at NAKTA. Members were concerned about the proposed extent of reclamation, the land use planning of the entire SEKD, and the possible waste of resources in the proposed design works should any amendments be made by the Town Planning Board to SEKD, in particular to stages II, III and IV development.

34. PAS/PEL responded that the design of SEKD had taken into account the intended functions of each of the four development packages. The development at NAKTA was itself a "stand-alone" development with the provision of roads, local open spaces, and supporting facilities. Since the area had already had an extensive road network to service the Kai Tak Airport, coupled with the proposed transport infrastructure, these should be able to meet the needs of the target population. PAS/PEL further said that there would be two railway lines in SEKD, although these had not been shown in the land use plans.

35. As the Administration had yet to respond to the views expressed by the professional institutes and concerned groups and the Town Planning Board was considering the objections to the draft OZPs, members considered it not appropriate at this stage to arrive at a funding decision on the NAKTA development, which might be subject to alterations.

36. PAS/PEL reiterated that if the proposed site investigation and detailed design works at NAKTA were deferred pending the completion of the town planning procedures, the proposed programme for the first intake of population by 2003 could not be met.

37. The Chairman opined that although site investigation in NAKTA might best be done in parallel with the detailed design works, it was technically feasible to conduct site investigation first, leaving the design works at a later stage. Dr Hon Raymond HO was of the view that site investigation should not be done until agreement had been reached on the NAKTA development.

38. Members agreed that pending the Administration's written response to the submissions, the Panel would further discuss SEKD.Clerk to note

II Any other business

39. There being no other business, the meeting closed at 6:30 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
27 January 1999