Civic Exchange on Hong Kong’s Future – in 2030 and Beyond
HONG KONG, 26 April 2017 – Civic Exchange, an independent think-tank, has published its recommendations for the Hong Kong Government’s “Hong Kong 2030+: Towards a Planning Vision and Strategy Transcending 2030.” This major consultation addresses almost all aspects of life in Hong Kong, looking ahead to the year 2030 and beyond.
(The Development Bureau’s Planning Department has also invited members of the general public to submit their own views by 30 April. You can do so at this link: http://www.hk2030plus.hk/your_engagement.asp?form=45)
Below are Civic Exchange’s key points.
Civic Exchange’s Key Points
- All aspects of “2030+” should addresses issues of wellbeing, liveability, and green, sustainable development.
- The timeframe for how “2030+” will be practically implemented is currently ambiguous, and needs clearer specific milestones. Breaking the plan into clear five- or 10-year phases should be considered.
- While Hong Kong clearly needs more housing, infrastructure and jobs, the “2030+” plan does not specify the costs – both financial and social – in delivering these necessities.
- The qualitative aspects of Hong Kongers’ lives – residents’ social, physical and emotional needs – are reflected neither in “2030+”’s metrics, nor in its “Conceptual Spatial Framework.” The plan makes no commitment to improving living environments or meeting international standards on these issues.
- Targets should include
- Access to local health and community services
- Commercial sites friendly to smaller, independent businesses, especially in new areas
- Sufficient, well-designed and conveniently located public open space
- Ways of connecting urban and green areas like country parks, particularly by walking, cycling or public transportation
- Data on sources on emissions and pollution
- “Green and blue” spaces need to be protected with strong enforcement and a commitment from many different government departments. Hong Kong should identify and strength the benefits we receive from “green and blue spaces,” particularly under our commitments under international agreements like the UN Convention on Biological Diversity.
- While the MTR is key to Hong Kong’s admirably high public transportation usage, using “railway as a backbone” is now an incomplete policy, especially looking to the future. We cannot rely on a “one-size-fits-all solution,” especially as maximum capacity will be reached at some point on our trains and subways. The Government needs to look at a variety of solutions, including restricting vehicles, or offering alternatives like safe and clean walking and cycling routes.
- Currently, the “2030+ plan focuses on physical infrastructure. But future planning must also take into consideration possible scenarios due to changes in immigration, climate, technology, the economy, the workforce and even residents’ personal preferences.
- Instead of relying on fixed structures, the “2030+” plan should integrate mixed-use districts, spaces and properties, possible accompanied by a revision of current building codes.
- The Government should lay out a clear overall strategy for identifying land for development.
- New metropolitan areas should also be designed to include new jobs and economic activity, particularly with measures that allow small, independent and local businesses to flourish.
- The Government should study how and why residents make choices about where to work and live – since these are closely related. Only with this data can smart decisions be made to avert the unintended negative consequences of development, like increased traffic and pollution.
- “2030+” ’s solution to population growth relies heavily on the development of two areas: East Lantau and New Territories North. They are forecast to jointly house 655,000 to 1.1 million new residents, more than quadrupling the population of the Islands District. This would equal unprecedented change – plus large-scale investment, land reclamation and social disruption. Civic Exchange advises that areas like East Lantau be turned into new metropolises only as a last resort, and only after arguments for it have been fully made.
- Housing in any area, new or old, should be planned with enough other infrastructure. In our February 2017 report, “Unopened Space: Mapping Equitable Availability of Open Space in Hong Kong,” Civic Exchange recommends increasing the provision target for public open space per person from the current 2m2 to 3m2.
“2030+” is currently just a plan. Actually implementing this plan will require clear, empowered government from the proposed “steering structure,” which has not yet been fully articulated. It will also require cooperation from all departments and branches of government, whether they are in charge of buildings, waste, emissions, labour or social issues. We urge the incoming Chief Executive to prioritise “2030+”’s collective vision and embed it within the new administration.
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