Macau Post Daily
Govt shaves building project by 73.5 metres to shield Guia view
The government will order the developer of a residential building project that was planned to stand126 metres tall to cut its height by 73.5 metres to 52.5 metres in order to protect the view of theworld-heritage protected Guia Lighthouse, the director of the Lands, Public Works and TransportBureau (DSSOPT), Jaime Roberto Carion, announced at a press conference yesterday.
The announcement followed an executive order signed by Chief Executive Edmund Ho Hau Wah that waspromulgated in the Official Gazette (BO) yesterday. The executive order determines the maximumbuilding construction heights to be permitted in the surroundings of the Guia Lighthouse.
According to the executive order, the maximum height limitations range between five metres and 90metres in 11 zones covering a total area of 2.8 square kilometres, or about 9.6 percent of the totalland area of the Macau Special Administrative Region (MSAR).
Mr. Carion hosted a special press conference at the DSSOPT Headquarters together with the vicepresident of Cultural Affairs Bureau (ICM), Stephen Chan Chak Seng, to explain the executive order.ICM President Heidi Ho was conspicuous by her absence.
The 126-metre residential tower project “cut-down” by the executive order is located on Calcada doGaio near Guia Hill that, according to the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC), has a height of 90metres. The lighthouse has a height of 15 metres, according to the Cultural Affairs Bureau.
According to the executive order, all new building projects located on Calcada do Gaio, Estrada doVisconde de S. Januario and Calcada da Surpresa, will not be allowed to be taller than 52.5 metres.
Mr. Carion was adamant: “The 126-metre tall residential building project is under construction now.The project’s construction height reached so far is lower than the maximum of 52.5 metres allowednow. Therefore, the government will order the building developer to suspend construction now.”Mr.Carion added that the government had already set up an inter-departmental working group, comprisingofficials from the legal sector, DSSOPT, Cultural Affairs Bureau, Mapping and Land Registry Bureau(DSCC), Finance Services Bureau (DSF) and Real Estate Registry, to “exchange views immediately”with the building’s developer about compensation matters, adding, “compensation may be settledthrough money or a land swap, depending on the wishes of the developer.”Macau SAR government lastyear received a “letter of concern” from the Cultural Heritage Conservation UNESCO Office inBeijing and the central government’s State Administration of Cultural Heritage about the impact ofthe 126-metre tall residential building project near Guia hill, Heidi Ho told the media lastNovember.
Mr. Chan said yesterday, “About the letter, the Cultural Heritage Conservation UNESCO Office inBeijing and the State Administration of Cultural Heritage requested the Macau Special AdministrativeRegion government to take measures to strike a balance between urban development and heritageconservation.”Maximum height 90 metresUnder the new executive order, the government will keep itspreviously announced decision intact to maintain the height limitation of building projects onAvenida do Doutor Rodrigo Rodrigues onthe foot of Guia Hill, at 90 metres.
Mr. Carion confirmed the DSSOPT had received three applications for the construction of high-riseresidential building projects on Avenida do Doutor Rodrigo Rodrigues several years ago. Mr. Carionsaid none of the three applications had so far been approved.
The acting chief of the urban development department of the DSSOPT, Lao Iong, told the pressconference that regarding the three applications, the government would allow just 40 percent of theirtotal area to reach a maximum of 90 metres in order to protect the Guia Lighthouse view.
Since 2006, scores of residents have expressed their concern about the “endangered” view of theGuia Lighthouse in the wake of the three high-rise building projects.
Mr. Chan said the government had already informed several UNESCO experts about its intention toimpose a 90-metre height limitation for building projects on Avenida do Doutor Rodrigo Rodriguesduring an inspection visit to the area last November.
Mr. Chan also said the government had formally informed the central government in Beijing and UNESCOin Paris about the 90-metre height limit in January.
Secretary for Transport and Public Works Lao Si Io told the media after attending a committee meetingof the Legislative Assembly (AL) yesterday that “environment protection is a very important pointfor the government. The government will further strengthen the protection of the surroundings ofMacau’s world heritage sites.”However, legislator-cum-activist Ng Kuok Cheong told media thepermission to erect up to 90-metre high buildings meant that residents could see the lighthouse butnot Guia Hill. “90 metres is too high to protect the view [of both the hill and thelighthouse].”Mr. Ng urged the government to set up a new height limitation plan in order to protectpublic interest. However, he failed to mention what he thought the ideal maximum height would be.
The director of the Liaison Office of the Central Government in Macau, Bai Zhijian, announced lastyear that the height of the future headquarters of the office on Avenida do Doutor Rodrigo Rodrigueslast year would be lowered from the originally planned 99.12 metres to 88 metres. Mr. Bai said thedecision to lower the height of the building was made in response to residents’ views on the matter.
Four ‘sight lines’Meanwhile, according to the executive order promulgated yesterday, the governmentwill set up four so-called sight lines to protect the view of the Guia Lighthouse.
A sight line is defined as a hypothetical line from a person’s eyes to what is seen. The urbandevelopment concept is used especially with reference to good or bad visibility, such at roadjunctions.
The first sight line covers the Guia Lighthouse and Outer Harbour. New building projects in that areawill not be allowed to exceed 52.5 metres in height.
The second sight line covers the area around the Golden Lotus Square, where new building projectswill not be permitted to be taller than 14 metres. Mr. Lao told the media at the press confermentthat the height of the Macau Forum stood at 19 metres, adding that if the Macau Forum would berebuilt one day, it would not be allowed to exceed 14 metres in height.
The third sight line covers the area between the Guia Lighthouse and Fortress Hill (Fortaleza doMonte). The fourth sight line covers the area between the Guia Lighthouse and Tap Seac Plaza. Ineither case the maximum height for new building projects amounts to 52.5 metres.
Among the 11 “buffer” zones around Guia Hill, three have a maximum height of 52.5 metres and four atop height of 47 metres for new building projects.
The lowest maximum height of just five metres for new building projects applies to an area near Ponteda Amizade (Friendship Bridge).
Mr. Lao also said the government planned to consult the public on height restriction in other areas,such as Penha Hill and Sai Van, in the first half of this year.