Hong Kong Sets A Bad Example for Richmond

“Richmond’s downtown has been ruined.

Less than 50 years from now, we will be demolishing thousands of tones of concrete along No. 3 Road and wiping the slate clean to start over re-building our city centre’s public realm……..

It is simply too sickening to see how my city has been defaced. The ominous concrete superstructure that marches along our main street is like a dark symbol of surrender – the public realm sacrificed for mega-project overwhelm…..

How did we fail in Richmond? We allowed ego-centric politicians and inexperienced megalomaniac bureaucrats to spend too much time building issue coalitions and too much time worrying about winning political points instead of spending time worrying about the details of urban design and the long-term implications of decisions made for short-term considerations.

Most cities set their public realm design objectives and their urban design principles and then choose a transit system that is compatible. When did detailed planning start for urban renewal in Richmond’s downtown?........”

Similarly, Hong Kong’s harbor has been ruined by the SAR administration’s compulsive urge to reclaim land in the Central and Wanchai area.

In the next five years, tones of concrete will be poured everywhere, even as far as Lantau Island, as a result of the SAR government embarking on the 10 mega infrastructure projects just announced by the CE and implementing the “Tai O Renovation” project, among others, under the controversial Concept Plan for the Development of Lantau Island.

It is simply too sickening to see how Hong Kong has been defaced. The tall massive glass and steel structures squatting on the harbor front are like a dark symbol of surrender – the public waterfront space sacrificed for mega-project overwhelm which includes the new government headquarters.

How did we fail in Hong Kong? We allowed ego-centric and megalomaniac bureaucrats to spend too much time building white elephants and too much time worrying about dismantling communities, lifestyles and natural landscapes instead of spending time worrying about the details of urban design and the long-term implications of decisions made for short-term considerations.

Of the ten infrastructure projects that will cost HK$250 billion, six are transport-related, of which three are in Hong Kong and three cross-boundary, while the remaining four are land development-related.

The funny thing is that none of the former six is even remotely connected with any of the latter four. If there is any connection at all, it is not explained in the CE’s policy address. A simple question to ask is: how will the West Kowloon Cultural District or the proposed cruise terminal at Kai Tak be served by mass transit? Another question might be: how will any of the named transport infrastructures within Hong Kong serve any of the Urban Renewal Authority’s proposed redevelopment projects, if it will at all?......

When did coherent planning that sensibly coordinate proposed transport infrastructure with proposed urban development start for urban renewal in Hong Kong?

It is just a shame that Richmond followed in Hong Kong’s footsteps.