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designing hong kong

A mega deal - but for who?


Yes, the MegaTower is reduced in size. But it still is a mega development and there is absolutely no indication that this development, together with the permitted Urban Renewal and private developments in Wanchai are sustainable.

The Government has yet to prove that Wanchai will be a great place to live, work, walk through, commute through tomorrow and in the future. The only ones who benefited from this deal are Hopewell and the Government - both will earn money from this.  Moreover, the Government avoids possible legal action over sloppy procedures, and Gordon Wu is rewarded for his help in getting Hong Kong the Hong Kong Zhuhai Macau Bridge, because without him it may have never happened.

As for the community, the residents, the people commuting from Happy Valley and the Southside to Central, the residents along Kennedy Road, the tourists hoping to wander around Wanchai  - tough luck.

The following letter was published in the South China Morning Post last week, November 13, 2008. We anticipated yesterday's announcement that the Government and Hopewell would make a deal on the MegaTower development.

Wan Chai needs diversity at street level


In a letter to the Editor of the South China Morning Post on November 5, a John Cheng informed us that the "developer is negotiating to scale back the size of the hotel to cope with the environment". This is an interesting admission and begs the question as to who the developer is negotiating with. Certainly not with the residents of
Kennedy Road and Wan Chai.


It is embarrassing to see how the government is paving the way for Hopewell Holding's version of
Times Square and Pacific Place, aptly called Mega Tower. The discussion has been changed from whether Mega Tower is a land use suited for Queen's Road East and Kennedy Road to one of fine-tuning the design and traffic details of this development. Watch out for further softening up with news about minor adjustments.


Don't be surprised by the final dictated glorious conclusion that "the public aspirations have been taken into account, the plan has been adjusted to reduce the traffic impact, it will generate jobs, we can sell land and earn money, we have balanced all interests, it's a go-ahead".


Before the government sells land to
Hopewell, it must prove that Wan Chai will be a great place to live, work and commute through. The public must ask for basic facts. Why rely on individual traffic impact assessments when, for example, Times Square proved that these are entirely inadequate to prevent road congestion? Where is the overall plan for development and transport demonstrating Wan Chai will be a sustainable quality environment to live and work in?


The outline zoning plan does not guarantee that the aspirations of the public for a quality and diverse street­level environment are catered for [with this project]. Nobody has shown what Wan Chai will be like once the Urban Renewal Authority and private developers have completed all permitted developments.

There is an urgent need now to widen footpaths and create more pedestrian areas and public space. District councillors and their constituents complain about traffic congestion and want more road space which simply does not exist.


Rather than controlling development, the government is promoting some disjointed plans to take pedestrians off the pavements and force them into tunnels and on to footbridges, foregoing any plan or effort to create and guarantee a street-level environment which promotes community-building, interaction and a pleasant experience for visitors.

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