Development density in south Tseung Kwan O will be cut to make the district more spacious with bridge built to improve its transport network, Director of Civil Engineering & Development John Chai says. Urban greening works will also be extended to the New Territories over the next two years.
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Development blueprint: Director of Civil Engineering & Development John Chai said urban greening master plans will be extended to the New Territories. A bridge across Junk Bay is also proposed.
In an interview with news.gov.hk, Mr Chai said his department, the newest of all the Government's works branches, has improved efficiency since its formation three years ago.
"We came from the two oldest works departments within the Government, the former Civil Engineering and Territory Development Departments, which merged on July 1, 2004. We now have about 1,700 staff, with two-thirds professional- or technical-grade staff," he said.
The department has six offices - two functional offices from the former Civil Engineering Department and four area-based development offices from the old Territory Development Department. Apart from developing new towns, the department is also responsible for a wide range of works projects, including port growth, land formation and slope safety.
"We reduced our staff upon merging by over 10%. As we have not changed much of our work from the previous two departments, we have somehow improved our efficiency."
Noting people's aspirations have been changing and they are now more conscious of their living environment, the director said the department is moving with constant social change.
"We are tasked with a very interesting assignment, that is, to provide greening master plans for different districts in urban areas. These plans are not just for finding empty spaces to put plants and flowers on. They are more robust, strategic and sustainable projects and we hope there will be consistency in their design, planning and implementation," Mr Chai said.
For instance, the greening master plan for Tsim Sha Tsui bears the theme "Jade Necklace" by linking up major greened areas including Kowloon Park, the former Marine Police Headquarters, the open space surrounding the Cultural Centre, Middle Road Children's Playground, Tsim Sha Tsui East Promenade and Centenary Garden. This green route offers pedestrians and visitors a relaxing and comfortable leisure experience.
To reflect Central's role as Hong Kong's financial centre, the greening master plan adopts a "Heart of Gold" theme, which is realised through plants with golden, yellow, orange or red flowers and foliage, supplemented by trees with a large crown to enhance the greening effect and offer shade to pedestrians.
The department is now working on greening master plans for Mong Kok, Yau Ma Tei, Sheung Wan, Wan Chai and Causeway Bay. The plans will be completed in December.
Mr Chai said: "Because of the good response and the good results of the master greening work that we have done, a lot of people are now asking us to speed up the work. Some people have also voiced that this greening master plan should not be confined to the urban area and should be extended to the New Territories. We have undertaken that we will start to plan for the New Territories. So in about two years we should be extending urban greening to the New Territories.
"Overall, we will be catching up with those most green countries or areas in the world. So hopefully Hong Kong will become a green city."
Turning to the management of construction and demolition materials, Mr Chai said the agreement with the State Oceanic Administration on cross-boundary marine dumping and disposal of inert construction and demolition materials has just been implemented, with the first batch of public fill shipped to Guang Hoi Wan in Taishan, 170 kilometres from Hong Kong, for reclamation on July 3.
"The reusing of surplus public fill can relieve the pressure on Hong Kong's marine dumping grounds and fill banks, and better utilise inert construction and demolition materials, creating a win-win situation for both Hong Kong and the Mainland.
"We will review the arrangement and its operation. To cut transportation costs, we will explore with the Mainland other possible sites for receiving the surplus public fill," Mr Chai added.
On the department's future plans, the director said a number of development projects are in the blueprint, including developments in West and South East Kowloon.
Mr Chai said: "We hope these new projects will bring about new developments to enhance Hong Kong's position as a world city. This should help further developments in line with economic growth, not just within Hong Kong, but in the region or even around the world.
"We want to keep improving, keep going ahead so we can maintain a leading position. It is important that we keep developing. But in the course of development, we should also be mindful that we are not doing any damage to the environment, and that we are also giving due consideration to improving the condition of those developed areas."
He said Tseung Kwan O new town was developed at a time where there was very strong demand for housing, adding that the northern part of the new town is densely built with closely-spaced high-rise buildings.
"We have plans for developing Tseung Kwan O south. Apart from reducing development density, we have also planned that developments there adopt a stepped height building profile to the waterfront to make the whole area appear less compact.
"On transport infrastructure, we are going to build a link over Junk Bay. This will be a featured bridge for Tseung Kwan O new town, in the form of a cable-supported structure.
"The road will extend from the current MTR station development, the Dream City, span across the bay, and then connect to the proposed Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin Tunnel, which will link the East Kowloon region, the proposed Central Kowloon Route and the rest of the city. This will be one of our major projects in the next few years."
Mr Chai said the project is in the planning stage, adding that affected residents will be fully consulted to garner their support.
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