The guidelines require developers not to build within 20 percent of the ridgeline, yet limiting height and densities in a one-size-fits-all fashion risks the creation of a repetitive and monotonous skyline as opposed to a varied and iconic one, the panel observed. Panelists concluded that Hong Kong planning and building regulations need to be more flexible and encourage creative, context-specific solutions to the city’s urban development challenges.
“In an effort to maintain control of the urban development process, Hong Kong has implemented stringent urban design guidelines that in some cases stand in direct contradiction with several other priorities: livability/quality of life for residents through improvements to the public realm, open space, and greater public amenities; diversification of Hong Kong’s economy; and strengthening Hong Kong’s ability to attract world-class companies and talent,” said Tom Murphy, panel chair and ULI senior resident fellow.
Murphy, the former mayor of Pittsburgh, has chaired several ULI Advisory Services panels as a senior resident fellow.
With rising office rents, constraints on development, and weak livability indicators, Hong Kong is vulnerable to losing its status as a globally competitive city as companies in the financial services industry—Hong Kong’s main economic driver—look elsewhere in Asia to establish a presence. In the global war for talent, livability is increasingly seen as a top priority and one that has been embraced by Singapore, for example.
“Hong Kong is still one of the world’s great gateway cities, but is facing competition from Singapore, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and even Melbourne—all Pacific Rim cities that are on the rise and are magnets for financial services, talent, and innovation that define ‘world class,’” Murphy said. “Our goal was to illuminate a path forward and create the framework for a better process by which government and the private sector can come together to help Hong Kong reach its full potential.”
Learn more about ULI Advisory Services and read the panel report on Hong Kong.