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Put people before cars in Hong Kong development, says designer

Monday, 26 August, 2013, 12:00am

NewsHong Kong


Olga Wong

Hong Kong’s development has been driven by cars instead of people, and a change of mindset by the government is vital to improve the city’s quality of life.

So says Vincent Ng Wing-shun, vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design and a member of the Harbourfront Commission.

“In Hong Kong, transport and planning fall under different bureaus. Planning officials do not have much room to manoeuvre. They plan according to roads and highways that are already laid down by the transport officials,” said Ng.

Ng cited a recent example: plans for the Central Kowloon Route – a 4.7-kilometre dual three-lane trunk road linking Yau Ma Tei and the planned Kai Tak development.

The plan, submitted to the Harbourfront Commission for endorsement in May, has the public walking below three-lane elevated highways to get to the Kai Tak waterfront from Kowloon Bay.

“And this is the improved version after taking into account the members’ views,” Ng added. “The spaghetti [of roadways] was put on the ground in the original plan – blocking the way to the waterfront.”

Ng asked: “Can’t we have more greenery and allow small dining facilities and other activities under the bridge?

“Leaving the infrastructure projects to transport and engineering departments will see only limited vibrancy and creativity,” he said.

“The pedestrian environment should be planned as early as other infrastructure.”

Asked how to improve the district for pedestrians, the development bureau said the area would have 25 connecting points with neighbouring districts, and two footbridges would be built to connect to private estates.

According to the Development Bureau, every development will be required to provide at least 30 per cent of green space, including on the ground and rooftops.

The 100 hectares of open space in Kai Tak, including the large Metro Park, would also be interconnected, the bureau said.

But while the timetable for the roads has been determined, there is no schedule for the construction of the parks.

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