Legislative Council and Eastern District Council representatives are joining the Oil Street rezoning request, and the Government asks the Town Planning Board to reject it.
The rezoning request for a review of the planning parametres for the former Government Supplies Department Depot site at Oil Street, North Point, will be heard by the Town Planning Board on Friday, 28 October, 2005 .
The rezoning request will be presented by: Paul Zimmerman Convenor, Designing Hong Kong Harbour District; Dr. Sujata S. Govada - Representative, Citizen Envisioning @ Harbour; Hon. Choy So Yuk - Legislative Councillor representing Hong Kong Island Constituents and Eastern District Councillor; Mr. Chiu Sing Kay - Chairman of the Public Works and Planning Committee of the Eastern District Council; Mr. Hui Ching On - Eastern District Councillor representing the Oil Street area constituency; and Mr Ian Brownlee, a professional planner who prepared the request.
The rezoning proposal has received community support with 1,000 signatures and letters from the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee, Eastern District Council and many others. The proposal calls for a reduction in the developable site area while retaining some development for land sales revenue. It also proposes to create a public open space of 8,400 m2 from the waterfront along Oil Street to the nearby heritage buildings and a 20 metre wide public harbour-front promenade. The maximum building height is reduced from a continuous 165 metres to a 'stepped' profile of 100 metres near the harbour rising to 140 metres inland. The new plan allows greater public access to the harbour and alleviates the crowded North Point urban environment.
However, the Government in a paper to the Town Planning Board is urging Members to reject the rezoning request, claiming that "the highest and best use of land with waterfront views is Commercial and Residential development for the generation of land premium. The use of the land for open space would represent an under-utilization of the land and should be avoided." The Government repeats that due process was completed with the planning brief approved in 1997, and that the zoning as a Comprehensive Development Area (CDA) provides sufficient flexibility.
Paul Zimmerman explained that, the plans are outdated as they precede the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance, the Urban Design Guidelines and the Harbour Planning Principles of the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee. Only an amendment of the Outline Zoning Plan provides transparency and certainty for the public and the future developer.
Mr. Zimmerman points out that the Oil Street is an example of the outdated zoning of Hong Kong 's harbour-front, resulting in ultra high density developments and walls of tall buildings around the harbour. He calls for harbour oriented developments, lower density, stepped building heights, public space, and leisure and commercial marine facilities. "The Government has challenged us to follow due process and submit rezoning requests. We focused on Oil Street as it is the first major site up for sale, however, the entire harbour-front needs to be looked at, he said.
The executive summary of the application, layout/section of the project and proposed rezoning can be downloaded from http://www.harbourdistrict.com.hk/release/050801/Release050801.zip
Designing Hong Kong Harbour District started in November 2003 as a series of ongoing initiatives to build consensus on sustainable planning for Victoria Harbour and the harbour-front.
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