Press statement by Town Planning Board

The following is issued on behalf of the Town Planning Board:

     In response to media enquiries on proposed amendments to approved scheme of Hopewell Centre II Development in Wan Chai, the Town Planning Board today (Monday) issued the following statement:

     The developer of Hopewell Centre II development has written to the Town Planning Board (the Board) enquiring whether the proposed amendments to the approved scheme fall within Class A amendments under the Board's Guidelines No. 36 for Class A and Class B Amendments to Approved Development Proposals.  The matter was submitted to the TPB for consideration at its meeting on December 12, 2008 as it involves interpretation of its Guidelines.  

     Under s.16A(1) of the Town Planning Ordinance, changes to an approved development scheme falling within Class A amendments do not require further application to the Board.  Class A and Class B amendments are clearly set out in the Board's Guidelines No. 36.  Except for reduction in open space provision, Government, institution or community facilities and number of trees to be preserved, other reduction in major development parameters are Class A amendments under the Guidelines.  The purpose of Class A amendments is to streamline the planning approval process by exempting certain amendments to a planning permission already granted by the Board which would not have any adverse planning implications.

     "Based on the Board's established practice, the classification of amendments to an approved scheme mainly involves the consideration of planning impacts and consequences that the change will have on the area.  The determination on such matter should have regard to the material and fact of an individual case.  The main focus is whether there would be any adverse impacts, consequences and implications," a spokesman of the Board said.

     The Board noted that the proposed amendments to the approved scheme involve no change in the proposed use, but a reduction in development scale.  Compared with the approved scheme in 1994, the proposed amendments mainly involve a reduction in site area, GFA/plot ratio, building height and number of hotel rooms with a minor increase in site coverage.  The building footprint, disposition and building form are basically similar to the approved scheme.  The proposed provision of open space including a public park and a private park to be open to public use at reasonable hours in the development would remain the same.  

     The Board also noted that the proposed amendments would not have any adverse planning impacts, consequences and implications and would in fact bring about  improvements from the planning aspect when compared with the 1994 approved scheme.  With the reduction in building height from 93 storeys (315mPD) to 55 storeys (210mPD), representing a decrease of 38 storeys and 105m, the ridgeline in the backdrop (about 230 to 284mPD) would not be breached as in the approved scheme.  The height of the proposed development would be lower than the existing Hopewell Centre (220mPD) and hence its visual impact on the neighbourhood would be reduced.  With the reduction in number of hotel rooms, the traffic impact generated by the proposed development is expected to be less than the approved scheme.  

     After considering the rationales behind the Class A and Class B amendments and having regard to the legal advice obtained, the Board agreed that the proposed amendments were Class A amendments.

     The subject was included as a confidential item in the Board's agenda mainly because the paper contained legal advice tendered to the Board, which is protected by legal professional privilege in law.

Ends/Monday, December 15, 2008
Issued at HKT 20:59