Civic Party Press Release on Governments’ Recommendation to the Town Planning Board to approve Hopewell Centre II changes as ‘minor amendments’
Civic Party deplores the Government’s recommendation to the Town Planning Board to consider the changes to the 1994 approved Hopewell Centre II Project, formerly known as Mega Tower, announced last month as ‘minor amendments’.
Civic Party further deplores the Town Planning Board’s approval for this project to bypass any further TPB scrutiny and public consultation.
We question whether the TPB can continue to pretend that it is an independent body when it relinquishes its powers and duties. The functions of the TPB are to be performed with a view to the promotion of the health, safety, convenience and general welfare of the community. These interests are best protected by public consultation and engagement.
We demand that the developer show the true impact of the revised development plans including the full height of the podium on Queen’s Road East and the impact on traffic on
. If these new plans have merit, let the public decide. The Government and TPB have failed to take into account the history of the public’s interest and concerns over the impact on the urban fabric’s density, traffic and environment posed by the 1994 proposal for Hopewell Centre II.
HK society today demands a fair balance between the needs of the public and a developer’s right to develop even where no absorption of publicly-owned land is involved. Where public space is to be taken over by a developer, complete transparency as to the terms reached by Government and developer is a prerequisite for good governance.
The public’s right and opportunity to express their opinions cannot be sacrificed in any circumstances.
The approval for such types of plans should not have been indefinitely extended for more than a decade, when the urban conditions and public sentiments have since changed. Protection of the public interest cannot be presumed. If there is a case for this project to go ahead in this form, the case should be made openly and transparently, to convince the people to accept the new project parameters by demonstrating factually the gains and the losses to the public, allowing a fair judgment to be made.
This technical move by the Government to secure the project’s development, acting on behalf of a private developer, is fundamentally undemocratic, unfair and not consistent with society’s core values.
Closed door meetings and under the table maneuvers do little to persuade the public of the merits of the amendments. The supposed protection thro’ the TPB must be upheld. The Government must stop treating the TPB as a rubber-stamp.
The ‘streamlining’ of the process for project approvals in the name of ‘job creation’ and ‘to reinvigorate the economy’ without regard for its environmental impact, civic concerns or urban integration is setting very dangerous precedents.
By manipulation and pitting one section of the community against another, the Government puts at risk a society in harmony and targets those who refuse to compromise our future for our present.