The HKIUD Public Affairs Committee’s views on the "Urban Design Study for the Wan Chai North and North Point Harbourfront Areas" Public Engagement
18 September 2015

The HKIUD Public Affairs Committee’s views on the "Urban Design Study for the Wan Chai North and North Point Harbourfront Areas" Public Engagement


  1. In general, although the themes and study approach are noted, it is considered that the proposed themes or “Characters” have not been sufficiently explored and the constraints not yet tackled. Thus It is doubtful that the urban design intentions could be achieved upon implementation.
  2.  The Study is in need of a development strategy in relation to the overall planning for the harbour. It tries to divide the area into a number of sub-areas each with a specific theme, with a view to establishing five different “Character Precincts”. However, the sub-division appears to be generated more by convenience and is influenced and constrained by the present elements, without taking the role that each area should play in the context of the whole harbour area as a whole. Tactical moves to solve existing problems may not be sufficient for shaping our harbourfront to its maximum potential.
  3. Programming of activities, although important, cannot compare with the creation of memorable "attractions" on the waterfront that can attract both visitors and locals daily, such as in other world class waterfront cities.
  4. The urban design for the “Celebration Precinct” (i.e. mainly the HKCEC zone) and the “Pierside Precinct” (i.e. the zone with the MTR Exhibition Station in the centre) is weak. The MTR new Shatin Central Line (SCL) would introduce many demands and opportunities (as well as impacts) to these two “precincts” as well as to inland areas in Wan Chai. The connections and interfaces therefore need to be elaborated. Only a N-S link along Stewart Road is shown, but it is not clear how it could be inserted through the very narrow streets in particular to the south of Hennessy Road.
  5. Likewise, the connections and potentials of the other MTR stations (including the proposed “Causeway Bay North” station), have not been fully explored and exploited to enhance the connections. The connections at the Tin Hau Station location may also need to be enhanced.
  6. Apart from catering for people coming into the reclamation area from the current MTR Wan Chai Station, the new developments on the reclamation such as the China Resources plaza, the indoor games hall and the MTR station would generate a lot more ground level based interactions per se. Therefore, apart from proposals of more footbridges, effort should also be made to promote a ground-based pedestrian friendly environment.
  7. Pierside Precinct – It would be useful to also explore the possible location(s) for (i) a more permanent location for the Hong Kong Maritime Museum from its present position at Pier 8 in Central; (ii) the possible location for the sunken ship (possibly the Tamar) when it is successfullyThere are also worthwhile heritage aspects yet to be covered, e.g. the Wan Chai Police Station which is a Grade II Historic building, but it has not been shown.
  8. In terms of implementation, it would be useful if different operational models are explored, including PPP, and involvement of social enterprises and NGOs, etc.
  9. It is observed that there are various infrastructure works which would continue to obstruct connectivity and access to the waterfront. e.g. What are the future uses of the Wan Chai East Sewage Treatment Work, SPCA site, PFS and Electricity sub-in the Pierside Precinct ? Are they optimal uses at this waterfront location or should they not be relocated ?  The “Pierside Precinct” has the longest “green” edge towards the harbour, among all the five Precincts. Yet, it is not clear how the character of the water interface of this Precinct could be best expressed and deployed to make it “a major tourist attraction and activity node for locals”. 
  10. On the other hand, the plan shows a few “OU(Waterfront related Commercial and Leisure Use)” sites to the north of Wan Chai Sports Ground. It might be taken as conceptual at this stage given the scale of these conceptual plans, but without detailed layout planning it is not certain how the configurations, disposition, andscales of these land parcels could best complement the parkland and the nearby comprehensive station developments. Why are these “small” sites set out somewhat haphazardly, ahead of a more comprehensive planning exercise taking the surrounding developments, landscape planning and district context into account ?
  11. On water activities and design, there could perhaps be more variations which we hope would be explored in the next stage ofAt present, the framework and conceptual design are overly conservative.
  12. It is noted that Fig. 16 introduces a very bold expression of a future pedestrian link from Hung Hing Road over the current Wan Chai Interchange to link up with Gloucester Road and Percival Street. To enhance the mobility of users and the connectivity between “precincts”, it would be worthwhile to consider planning a continuous green loop circuit to connect the various “precincts” as well as provide more access points to the waterfront connected back to Gloucester Road. An additional promenade link over the Causeway Bay breakwater would be a worthwhile scenic route with good potential for recreation and leisure value as well.

 

Public Affairs Committee of

The Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design

18 September 2015

 
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