ON THE AGENDA

Hong Kong Tatler - - Features -

A host of trans­port and ur­ban plan­ning projects prom­ises to im­prove the city’s air qual­ity and live­abil­ity in the next five years. En­vi­ron­men­tal con­sid­er­a­tions are at the fore­front of plans to re­de­velop Kowloon East, where green­ery, spa­cious prom­e­nades and pedes­trian ar­eas will en­able out­door recre­ation away from heavy traf­fic. Nu­mer­ous build­ings, in­clud­ing the al­ready­built Kai Tak Cruise Ter­mi­nal, will sport en­ergy-sav­ing fea­tures such as so­lar-pow­ered hot wa­ter, dou­ble-glazed win­dows, rooftop gar­dens and ef­fi­cient light­ing sys­tems. Like­wise, the West Kowloon Cul­tural Dis­trict prom­ises to be an “ur­ban oa­sis” boast­ing co­pi­ous park­land, with its own tree nurs­ery, so­lar-pow­ered hot wa­ter, en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly on-site buses and the bury­ing of roads un­der­ground to en­hance ground-level air qual­ity. On the trans­port front, the MTR’S South Is­land line will ease crit­i­cal traf­fic bot­tle­necks, and the Sha Tin to Cen­tral Link will re­lieve heav­ily con­gested ar­eas such as Kowloon City. Then there is the Des Voeux Road trans­for­ma­tion project, which would re­ju­ve­nate the very heart of the CBD. The Hong Kong In­sti­tute of Plan­ners has been lob­by­ing the gov­ern­ment for more than a decade to turn what is one of the city’s most pol­luted and con­gested thor­ough­fares into a pedes­trian-only zone be­tween Western Mar­ket and Ped­der Street. The lay­ing of grass around the tram tracks, plant­ing of trees, set­ting up of out­door cafes—and the ab­sence of pol­lut­ing ve­hi­cles—would bring a breath of fresh air to the cen­tre of the city. “We like this plan,” says Loh. “I think it is re­al­is­tic. I think it is doable. But it re­quires a bit more work. The Trans­port and Hous­ing Bureau is very im­por­tant [in mak­ing this a re­al­ity], so we need to see how we can co­or­di­nate.”

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