Tamar site

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Coordinates: 22°16′50.85″N 114°9′56.08″E / 22.2807917°N 114.1655778°E / 22.2807917; 114.1655778

HMS Tamar (white vessel) anchored off the Naval Dockyard (1905)
Tamar site, PLA headquarters in background

Tamar site (Chinese: 添馬艦; Jyutping: tim1 maa5 laam6), 4.2-hectare large, the former location of the naval basin attached to the headquarters of the British Forces Overseas Hong Kong, is currently the site of the Central Government Offices (headquarters) of the Hong Kong Government at the harbourfront of Central, Hong Kong Island, Hong Kong.

To the east, it connects with cultural and convention facilities including the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre; to the south, it connects with financial, commercial and tourism hubs; to the southwest, it connects to Garden Road which is rich in historical and heritage values.

It is currently the most expensive piece of empty land in Hong Kong, valued at $24.3 billion on the market ($9,000 per square foot). Different parties were in favour of building their own projects in the site, including the government's new headquarters, highly profitable office or retailing space, and a waterfront open green space.

History[edit]

HMS Tamar was originally the name of a British naval vessel which arrived in Hong Kong in 1897 and remained in the British territory until Japanese occupation of Hong Kong during World War II in 1941. In memory of this vessel, the British named the Royal Naval station in Hong Kong "HMS Tamar". The British garrison pre-handover was stationed at the "Prince of Wales Building", within the base, and which is part of the site.

Past uses[edit]

An event of HKIFF 2006 in Tamar site

A number of large-scale functions including expos and musical or theatrical performances had been staged at the Tamar site before. A few examples are Saltimbanco by Cirque Du Soleil, the annual Hong Kong Product Expo, the Hong Kong International Film Festival and the ill-fated "Harbour Fest". The entire site has played host to a fun-fair in 2005 and 2006.

Concert venue[edit]

The Tamar site has been a target of strong criticism by the public for its poor record of music events. In 2003, the Hong Kong government made plans to create a major concert event to help Hong Kong out of the economic crisis brought about by the SARS epidemic, naming it "Harbour Fest". The event took heavy criticism as it was considered "extremely poor organization".[1]

Use during the sixth WTO Ministerial meeting[edit]

The Tamar site was one of the protest sites suggested by members of the Hong Kong People's Alliance on WTO, a non-governmental organization (NGO) that represents dozens of organizations heading to Hong Kong to protest the WTO Ministerial Conference of 2005. The Tamar site is suggested since the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, where the conference is to be held, will be visible from it.

However, the government has already turned down this suggestion and the site will be used exclusively as a vehicle processing centre during the conference instead. It is estimated that over 1,000 vehicles will be traveling to and from the conference venue on a daily basis. All vehicles and their drivers and passengers will have to go through screening at the Tamar Site for security verification before they are allowed to enter the conference venue.

Current use[edit]

New Central Government Offices[edit]

The new Central Government Offices under construction in September 2010.

Hong Kong Government is relocating their Central Government Offices (former at Government Hill), Legislative Council Building and the Chief Executive's Office to the Tamar site (Central Government Complex, Tamar). The government halted the Tamar project developments in November 2003 because of the tough economic climate during the SARS outbreak.

Panorama of Tamar site

At least two hectares of the 4.2-hectare site is reserved as for recreational open space in this $5.2 billion development plan. This space will be used for an open space while the rest of the site will be used for government buildings. Most offices of the government bureaux (collaboratively called the Government Secretariat) will be moved from various locations into the new complex, as well as the Legislative Council of Hong Kong. The council chambers will abandon the traditional British layout and favouring a seating arrangement similar to the Congress Hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

In order to ensure the buildings behind the site such as the Far East Finance Centre,[2] the Admiralty Centre,[3] Lippo Centre,[4] the United Centre, Pacific Place Offices Towers,[5] Island Shangri-La[6] and the Conrad Hotel[7] continue to have views of the harbour, the height of the government buildings will only be allowed to be 130-180mPD.

The government had also decided to cut the exhibition gallery from the project. In 2004, the government had promised the Trade Development Council[8] that they would be able to rent the grounds as a temporary venue for mega fairs twice a year, for a total of three years. Originally the Hong Kong Gifts & Premium Fair[9] and the Hong Kong Electronics Fair[10] were to exhibit at the Tamar site once a year. It was meant to become Asia's largest sourcing fair. The government decided to cut out the exhibitions because it will help lower the development intensity of the site and alleviates effects on transport arising from the project.

The contract for the project is signed on 28 January and work started in mid-February 2008 and finished in 2011. The project engaged 3,000 workers.[11]

A flag-raising ceremony was held on Monday 1 August 2011, morning to mark the event with staff from the Commerce, Industry and Tourism Branch of the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau having the honor of being first in at Tamar.[12]

Criticism for new plans[edit]

Groups like the Hong Kong Institute of Planners[13] do not think that the Tamar site should be made into a government complex. Because of the Tamar site's unique location, connecting cultural, financial and tourist facilities, it is a hub that should be used for political, economic, cultural and entertainment purposes instead of a government complex.

Footnotes[edit]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]