Press Releases

International Conference Calls for Action on Planning for Harbour District

(May 3, 2004, Monday) HONG KONG ---- Over 20 representatives from international and local Government, professional, business and civic groups met today to discuss the best way forward for Hong Kong's Harbour District.

Organized by Business Environment Council (BEC), The Experience Group and GML Consulting, the EnviroSeries Conference - Designing Hong Kong Harbour District - called for integrated sustainable urban planning for Victoria Harbour, the harbour front and surrounding districts on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

The output of the Conference will be included in the report "Designing Hong Kong Harbour District" and will be timely feed-back for the newly announced Harbour-front Enhancement Committee (HEC) and the Town Planning Board.

Mr. Andrew Long, Chief Operating Officer of The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited and Chairman of Business Environment Council stated in his Welcome Addresss, "This event has been staged to draw out the views of all sectors of our community and start the process of building consensus on the sustainable planning and development principles for the harbour district - a key asset for residents and the visiting community alike to use and enjoy. Through this conference, we hope to address the present and future needs of the whole community, and raise some of the key questions that must soon be answered."

"BEC is delighted to have been invited to participate as one of the members of HEC." He added. Mr Long today formally announced the intention of the BEC to convene a Harbour District Business Forum including leading representatives from the business community to bring together the business views and assist in quickly moving this important issue forward. He indicated that formal invitations world shortly be issued to members of the business community.

Keynote speaker of the conference, The Hon Mr. Michael Suen, GBS, JP, Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau of the HKSAR Government emphasized that in order to preserve our harbour in a sustainable manner, all sectors of the community need to work together in a spirit of partnership. "I welcome the strong concerns that have been expressed by so many organizations and individuals. I would like to express my appreciation to the Business Environment Council and the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District Campaign for the remarkable contributions to the process by bringing together different stakeholders, including concern groups, the business sector, green advocates and professional institutions."

Mr. Paul Zimmerman, Chief Coordinator of the Designing Hong Kong Harbour District initiative in his closing remarks summarized a number of key conclusion from the research and conference.

"For the first time in Hong Kong's history we can no longer rely on new land from reclamation to build facilities and infrastructure. This has a dramatic impact on how we plan land-use and how we manage our decision making. For the last pieces of land left around the harbour district we must now be very careful in making our final choices between roads, buildings or public open space and facilities."

"The Harbour Plan Study, Urban Design Guidelines and the vision from the endorsement by Town Planning Board to make Victoria Harbour attractive, vibrant, accessible and symbolic of Hong Kong - a harbour for the people and a harbour of life provide a clear framework which must be followed through. There is no excuse for failure in implementing the plans, guidelines and rules. What needs to be demonstrated is a true will and commitment to follow through despite financial, legal, jurisdiction, technical or engineering constraints."

"A well-designed harbour district is good for business and is good for the people of Hong Kong. It will endorse and communicate our brand as the 'Asia's World City', it will drive jobs in the tourism sector, it will enhance the quality of life in Hong Kong and attract talent from around the world to strengthen our role as the financial and business services center in Asia."

"To accommodate land for growth, an integrated strategic urban plan is required for the harbour district as a whole, from west to east kowloon, and from Taikooshing to Sheung Wan. The plans for available land can then be optimized, maintaining intensity in Central/Wanchai and Tsimshatsui, and growing in West Kowloon and Kai Tak/Kwun Tong."

"A Sustainable Transport Review is required which takes into account the opportunity and environmental costs of the footprint of surface and elevated roads. Specific immediate action includes the alignment of the Central Wanchai Bypass and P2 roads to minimize the footprint on Hong Kong Island's north shore. In the long term, we need to consider the benefits of submerging the Kwun Tong Bypass, Island East Corridor and re-engineering roads in Kowloon. We can learn from Boston that the longer we wait, the greater the pain and cost."

"A Pedestrian 'First' Strategy" must be incorporated in all urban and transport planning around the harbour district. An active, vibrant and accessible harbour is entirely a function of convenient pedestrian access to the harbour, mobility around the harbour district and generous public open space."

"A Harbour Activitation Strategy is required, which includes licensing, allowing fishing and street music, the building of piers and moorings, and other amenities which allow easy use of the harbour itself by individual residents."

"The Harbour-front Enhancement Committee is a start - but ultimately a Harbour District Authority at the highest level of Government is required to take leadership and resolve the current iterative planning process between the many Departments which so often results in sub-standard solutions."

"Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority is a good example where all Government land and facilities around the foreshore were transferred into one authority. The development of these resources provide the finances for improving and re-engineering existing structures - a principle which can be applied in Hong Kong when considering how to finance the development of the harbour district."

"For the next 15 years, the harbour district, our major tourist facility and 'brand image' of Hong Kong will be under construction. To ensure the area remains attractive and vibrant - an innovative approach to licensing temporary venues, allowing street markets, and an ongoing integrated communications campaign aimed at both residents and tourists is required."

"New methods of community participation, including review of the involvement of the Town Planning Board and LegCo are required to ensure that the harbour districts urban and transport plans are developed together with and for the people and the businesses of Hong Kong."

"Designing Hong Kong Harbour District" was the first conference in EnviroSeries 2004, broken down into four key sessions as follows: Transport Policy, Land Development & Land Use, Implementation and Institutional Arrangements. Guest speakers included international experts and decision makers from Planning Department, Transport Department and Territory Department of the HKSAR Government, Chinese University of Hong Kong, Kowloon-Canton Railway Corporation, Massachusetts Turnpike Authority (The Big Dig, Boston), Sydney Harbour Foreshore Authority, University of Hong Kong and many others.

For press enquiries,
please contact Conference Press Secretariat:
Ms Loretta Chang, 2234 6424 / 6446 1513,
Ms Edith Wong, 2234 6424 / 9261 8574,

About "Designing Hong Kong Harbour District"

Designing Hong Kong Harbour District is a community initiative which calls for integrated sustainable urban planning for the entire Harbour District, including Victoria Harbour, the harbour front and surrounding districts on Hong Kong Island and Kowloon.

Business Environment Council
The Experience Group
GML Consulting

Planning Department, Hong Kong SAR
Hong Kong General Chamber of Commerce
Creative Initiatives Foundation

EnviroSeries Conference - 3 May, 2004
Sponsors: The Australian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Gammon Skanska Limited, Island Shangri-La Hotel Hong Kong, The Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation Limited, The Kowloon Motor Bus Company (1933) Limited, Motorola Semiconductors Hong Kong Limited, The Swire Group, The Wharf (Holdings) Limited. Organizer: Business Environment Council

Our growing list of supporters
American Chamber of Commerce, Australian Chamber of Commerce, AGC Design, Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong, Civic Exchange, Clear the Air, Fairmont Shipping, Friends of the Harbour, Fringe Club, Green Lantau Association, Hongkong Land, Jones Lang LaSalle, Living Islands Movement, MF Jebsen International, Quamnet, Save Kai Tak Campaign, Save our Shorelines, Society for Protection of the Harbour, Sunday Communications, Albert Cheng, Erwin Hardy.

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