Hong Kong 2030+: A strategy without vision

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Future planning is more than just throwing out hard spatial figures and jibber-jabber societal elements that really matter.

(Photo credit: Chris Lusher)

Big plans need big visions. But when it comes to outlining Hong Kong’s future, the government seems to have opted for a less inspiring approach with hard numbers instead.

As the Hong Kong 2030 Plus consultation period is set to conclude by the end of this month, recommendation papers are flying in, in hopes of altering the current proposals. In particular, pundits have challenged the government’s housing target to fit a population of 9 million despite the Census and Statistics Department predicting that the city’s population will peak at 8.22 million in 2043.

The strategy mainly sketches plans for two strategic growth areas in Kowloon East and Lantau, and three primary development axes, namely the Western Economic Corridor, the Eastern Knowledge and Technology Corridor and the Northern Economic Belt, while offering a light touch on liveability issues.

Local residents and green activists have also urged the government to scrap its East Lantau Metropolis plan amid skyrocketing costs and environmental concerns. A funding request of HK$20.5 billion was recently submitted to the LegCo to reclaim 150 hectares of land east to the current Tung Chung new town to offer 40,800 new homes. The full project will see 1,000 hectares of land reclaimed to accommodate 400,000 to 700,000 people.

Edward Yiu Chung-yim, legislator representing the Architectural, Surveying, Planning and Landscape functional constituency, is among those taking a harsh line on the proposals. The former Chinese University assistant professor stressed that the infrastructure and housing projects under the Hong Kong 2030+ strategy would push Hong Kong to its economic, fiscal and social limits. He has hosted a number of seminars in an attempt to present alongside other activists a “grassroot” alternative to the government.

Urban designer Francis Neoton Cheung also expresses concerns over deficiencies in the current proposal. “They have done it the wrong way in the very first place,” Cheung says. “The report is only a spatial framework while there are many other elements that should have been taken into account.”

Related: HK Vision 2050: Four-in-One Vision For the Future City

“The government has set up high standards on some of those criteria including visibility and green development in the report, but there is no solution as to how these standards can be achieved,” he adds.

Related: HK Vision 2050: Social Infrastructure for our Future

To his credit, Cheung has put forward a city planning framework for Hong Kong beyond 2050 last year. The framework goes beyond mere physical and spatial planning to encompass the notions of smart city, green city, healthy city and sustainable city with inspiring ideas such as an ‘Innopolis’ in North Lantau, a ‘Neopolis’ in the central waters, an ‘Aerotropolis’ in the form of a second airport, as well as a ‘Silveropolis’ near Tung Lung Chau for the elderly.

Related: HK Vision 2050: Interview with Francis Neoton Cheung

“The 2030+ strategy should have been different from other plannings in the sense that it should look at from a broader horizon. It is unfortunate that the government’s previous studies did not consider better cooperation with Shenzhen’s city planning to enhance its linear development,” Cheung contends. “More importantly, there is no scenario planning to offer Hong Kong people different directions to pick from.”
Harbour Times will continue the follow the Hong Kong 2030 Plus and the consultation as it develops.

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