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September 10th, 2008:

Move To Rezone The Repulse Bay Site

What do you think of the move to rezone the Repulse Bay site?

Updated on Sep 10, 2008 – SCMP

The Repulse Bay Company (owner of 101 and 109 Repulse Bay Road) strongly objects to the proposed rezoning of the existing Seaview Building and the adjacent public car park from “beach-related leisure uses” and “open space” to “comprehensive development area”.

There needs to be an exhaustive and comprehensive study or vision for the development of the beach in its entirety.

Almost daily, traffic on Beach Road comes to a standstill due to traffic congestion caused by tour coaches, not to mention noise pollution with honking car horns. The lack of a coach parking facility and very limited parking spaces for private cars make the traffic flow on this one-way road unacceptable.

A piecemeal approach to redevelopment of this area would have a detrimental effect on the neighbourhood.

The uniqueness of the pristine beach must be maintained. Any redevelopment should not be overly bulky.

Redevelopment of the site for hotel purposes would not, from our extensive experience in this field, being affiliated with The Peninsula Hotels, enhance this beach in terms of tourism value. It would only increase traffic congestion and the density of the area, thus negatively affecting the beach’s serenity.

From an operational point of view the site does not offer much privacy due to its proximity to a public beach, thereby affecting the potential room rate that could be charged. Finally, the size of the site limits the possibility to offer support facilities for such an operation.

We agree with the government’s suggestion to put the site to better use to enhance the tourism value of the area.

We envision the area being turned into a public space with open areas for staging rotating youth art exhibitions or something similar, sitting-out areas, a playground, skateboard area for teenagers, a boardwalk feature connecting the existing boardwalk from Deep Water Bay with the Kwun Yum and Tin Hau temples at the eastern end of the beach, and limited commercial activity.

This approach would undoubtedly enhance The Repulse Bay as a comprehensive sightseeing destination for the neighbourhood, the public and tourists alike. This beach is one of Hong Kong’s prime beaches and it would have irreversible negative effects to turn this last section of it into an extensive hotel/commercial development.

Palle Ledet Jensen, general manager, The Repulse Bay Company Limited

Higher Risk Of Death For Poor On HK Bad Air Days

Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:00pm BST

HONG KONG (Reuters) – Poor people in Hong Kong have a higher risk of death when air pollution is bad, a seven-year study has found.

“The finding is that people living in highly-deprived areas had higher risk of mortality after bad air pollution days,” Wong Chit-ming, an associate professor at the University of Hong Kong’s School of Public Health, said in an interview.

“Most deaths occurred a day after the air pollution index showed a rise,” said Wong, one of the researchers in the study, which was published in Environmental Health Perspectives.

The researchers pored through 215,240 deaths in Hong Kong between 1996 to 2002 from respiratory and cardiovascular causes. They had details on the districts they lived in, the income they earned when they were alive, whether they were single or married and if they lived alone before they died.

The data was compared against air pollution readings in the territory, taking into account four pollutants — nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, particulate matter less than 10 micrometers in diameter, and ozone.

The researchers found that more deaths occurred in poor neighborhoods right after air pollution readings shot up.

“These areas have more unemployed people, households earning less than US$250 a month, single-person households, and more people living in shared flats,” Wong said.

Such a phenomenon was not observed in richer neighborhoods.

Explaining why poorer people were more susceptible, Wong said: “They may smoke more, have less time to exercise, have poorer nutrition, less access to healthcare.”

(Reporting by Tan Ee Lyn; Editing by Bill Tarrant)