The development of Site 3 at Central Harbourfront is critical to the future of Hong Kong in many ways, especially given that it is essentially the last piece of prime harbourfront that is available for development.
The Chamber strongly believes that the highest price offered should not be the main factor in determining the design or selecting the winning bid for the project. A holistic and sustainable design approach that caters for the long-term needs of Hong Kong and of its citizens should be the governing factor. That design should in turn be determined according to three main criteria:
- Visual impact. The Central Harbourfront is a key part of Hong Kong’s iconic skyline, and the design will have a lasting imprint on how the city is perceived internationally. The tourism industry is vital to Hong Kong, and the development of this site will have the potential to maximise its appeal to tourists, and enhance its reputation internationally for being a progressive and forward-looking city.
- A place to relax. The site should offer a place where Hong Kong citizens and visitors can enjoy an attractive and extensive green space, with a mix of business and community facilities, away from traffic and noise. Hong Kong can be a noisy and crowded city. Taking advantage of this opportunity in the right way by creating the right design environment will have a positive impact on our citizens’ quality of life.
- Functionality. Practical issues, such as ease of access to the Central ferry piers, also need to be considered.
Creating a more liveable and walkable city was expressed as a priority in the Chief Executive’s Policy Address. The development of Site 3 according to these three criteria would be a major step in this direction, and would also be a lasting legacy for this Administration.
We note that HKGCC’s views on the Site 3 development are shared by other business associations including the international chambers – in other words, by a large proportion of Hong Kong’s business community. We believe that the general public also shares the same views, and suggest updating the 2011 government-commissioned study on creating a world-class waterfront by consulting the public again on its expectations for this iconic site.
It is crucial that the successful tenderer should be held to the most rigorous standards in designing and then delivering the project, given its critical importance to the future of Hong Kong.
Consideration could be given to the “two-envelope” approach for the tendering process. Under this process, bids submitted would first need to meet the required standard of conceptual design. Only then would the envelopes containing financial proposals be considered.
There could be other options that would deliver a similar outcome. Regardless of what these are, it is of paramount importance that emphasis be given to the design aspects that satisfy the three key criteria to create a visually stunning and functional green space for Hong Kong.