Midland Strategy, The Container Terminal, and Land Supply

Urban planning

The CBD3 (Third Central Business District) plan of the government, which proposes a huge artificial island at Kau Yi Chau approximately halfway between Hong Kong Island and Lantau, is probably rooted deep in the public consciousness by now. While it enjoys the strategic location in between Central, Kowloon and the airport and has the potential to spawn new infrastructure (as the proposed “Strategic Studies on Railways and Major Roads beyond 2030” may show), it might not be the best place to construct a new CBD after all.

Being of considerable distance from most major population centres (let alone major labour sources), the potential for the proposed artificial island to develop and prosper is in doubt. The City of Victoria took over a century under the tutelage of the colonial bureaucrats and taipans to come into prominence as one of the world’s major financial centres, and the East Kowloon CBD has all the industrial buildings and infrastructure for it to make a considerable jumpstart (not to mention being in the district with the densest population in all of Hong Kong), but CBD3 has none of these qualities. What’s more, all the transport infrastructure has to be developed anew, and we’re talking about transporting hundreds of thousands of passengers in an hour.

Now consider the Tsuen Wan area, which consists of Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing Districts. There’s already many people and businesses there—it’s a city of 800,000. So, why not move the Container Terminal to the sea and build the CBD3 there?

Let’s call the area Midland. In fact, I like to use Midland to describe all of the Tsuen Wan area from Tai Mo Shan to Lai Chi Kok Bay, from Tsing Lung Tau to Shing Mun (again, that’s Tsuen Wan and Kwai Tsing Districts combined—did anyone forget that the latter is a “breakaway” district of the former?) It’s really the geographic centre of Hong Kong.

midland CBD location.png

With the majority of the population in the New Territories, the Midland Strategy will save commuting times for a lot of people.

midland CBD spatial concept.png

We already have four railway stations which we can put into good use. Plus, we will get the opportunity to develop a whole new CBD on principles of sustainable development in the footsteps of Kai Tak.

(I actually submitted the plan right before the deadline of the HK2030+ consultation—not sure if they received it?)

Perhaps I’m not alone in proposing to move the Container Terminal. Our HK Foundation proposed that as well, without going into the planning details. (Article in Chinese)

Or build a podium over the Container Terminal directly like this article proposes? (Article also in Chinese) Either way, the Midland CBD is way sounder than a CBD on some artificial island at the middle of the sea.