Sunday, June 19, 2005

Convention centre move irks group


Harbour protection campaigners claim the government bypassed a process of public participation when it backed a $1.3 billion extension to the Convention and Exhibition Centre.

The Citizen Envisioning @ Harbour group said Exco's support of the 19,400-square-metre atrium extension "impairs the integrity of the Harbour-front Enhancement Committee's [HEC] public engagement process".

The organisation's spokesman, Albert Lai Kwong-tak, yesterday said Exco knew HEC members had reservations about the Trade Development Council's plans to expand the exhibition premises.

"By ignoring the HEC-endorsed harbour-planning principles and the Town Planning Board-endorsed Harbour Vision and Urban Design Guidelines, the Exco decision will likely put the board in an untenable position when HKCEC submits its development application," Mr Lai said.

The move has also left campaigners wondering whether they play any real role in the HEC, a committee set up to advise the government through the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau on harbour-related issues.

Paul Zimmerman, convenor of Designing Hong Kong Harbour District, said: "You have a lot of people spending their personal time, in afternoons and evenings, working on this and you get no policy support whatsoever. You get something like this happening, it's an insult."

The government said yesterday that while it supported the expansion of the Convention and Exhibition Centre, the proposal still required approval from the Town Planning Board, which would take comments and views from the public into account.

A government spokesman said: "The atrium link extension as proposed should not constitute reclamation works for the purpose of the Protection of the Harbour Ordinance." is the premier information resource on Greater China. With a click, you will be able to access information on Business, Markets, Technology and Property in the territory. Bookmark for more insightful and timely updates on Hong Kong, China, Asia and the World. Voted the Best Online newspaper outside the US and brought to you by the South China Morning Post, Hong Kong's premier English language news source.

Published in the South China Morning Post. Copyright (C) 2005. All rights reserved.