Harbour Views 31 July 2007

The Government missed a golden opportunity

The Secretary for Development came and left empty handed when she met the Queen's Pier activists on Sunday. That is unfortunate - as this now does not bode well for a peaceful start to the demolition.

Activists asked the Government to commit itself to making Edinburgh Place, including Queen's Pier and City Hall, the starting point for the planning of the Central Waterfront.

Despite the grading by the Antiquities Advisory Board and the preference for maintaining historic structures in situ under the Burra Charter and guidelines set by the national Government, the Hong Kong Government said that it will not commit itself to in-situ reinstatement. The Secretary for Development claimed the need to balance development and preservation. Here are 2 reasons why this argument does not make any sense:

1. There is no conflict between the reinstatement of Queen's Pier in situ, the construction of a P2 road, and the development schedule for Central.

We have ample time to change the boundary of the land reserved for P2. Queen's Pier leaves more than the 18.9 meters required for a temporary 4-lane P2. This provides sufficient capacity till after 2016 based on the Transport Design Manual and the demand forecasted by the Government based on the developments planned for Central.

2. Edinburgh Place is a public venue of historic significance, and was designed to include Queen's Pier and City Hall. Keeping the venue intact adds a tourist destination without spending a penny.

For 40 years Governors arrived at and left from Queen's Pier. They were greeted and welcomed at the Dias and then entered City Hall. Members of the Royal Family including Princess Diana arrived here. Why spend billions of dollars on new tourist attractions and destroy this public venue which comes for free? The Queen¡¦s Pier structure itself can continue as a shelter for people waiting for their bus, minibus or taxi.