Where do you work?
I am currently working in the Planning Department (PlanD) of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government as a Town Planner. I am responsible for statutory and district planning matters of Lantau Island, which is the largest island in Hong Kong and home of a myriad of natural landscapes, a wide diversity of ecological species. It’s also an island rich in rural village culture. My major tasks in my past 2.5 years in PlanD have included preparing new Outline Zoning Plans for two areas in northwest Lantau (namely Sha Lo Wan and San Tau, as well as Sham Wat and San Shek Wan), processing planning applications, and local planning and development proposals in South Lantau.
Route into planning
Tell us about your route into planning
Inspired by my geography teacher in high school who always explored innovative teaching methods to stimulate our interests in urban landscapes, I started to develop my interest in planning. I still vividly recall the tram and bus day trip during high school when we learnt about the change in land uses from an old urban district to a central business district along Hong Kong Island, and from downtown areas to low density residential clusters in Mid-Levels area. The ever-changing urban morphology, as the interplay between countless human and natural factors, has always amazed me and propelled me to be committed to planning. Upon completion of my undergraduate study as well as a gap year of working in an environmental group and a policy think tank, I started my planning journey by pursuing a postgraduate degree in urban planning at The University of Hong Kong. After my graduation in 2017, I had the privilege to work as a graduate trainee in PlanD and subsequently a town planner in Sun Hung Kai Properties (SHKP), which is a Hong Kong-based real estate developer. I am grateful to be able to attain comprehensive professional planning knowledge at PlanD and SHKP, which paved the way for my chartership for RTPI in August 2020.
Helping the public
How does your role involve helping the public?
Planning is always at the upstream in a development process. Good planning can bring fruitful outcomes for people in need. When I was working in Sun Hung Kai Properties, I was involved in the planning of “United Court”, a transitional housing project in response to the territorial policy initiative promulgated by the Government. The project is dedicated to provide transitional accommodations for those inadequately housed until they receive a social housing offer from the Government. During the course of preparing the planning project, I had a great time working with a wonderful team of professionals from various disciplines, who were all dedicated to shape a future neighourbood that could meet the genuine needs of the prospective residents. For example, improving access to local open space and greenery, and having retail outlets and social amenities all within walking distance. The project was formally completed with residents moving in from May 2022. The most satisfying part, as a town planner, is seeing the planning ideas of the team come into realisation. This spells out the importance of detailed planning at the upstream in a development process.
How did you go about appraising the needs of local communities?
Our community comprises all walks of life with all kinds of views. This poses a challenge to me as a town planner in the Government, when it comes to defining what actions relate to public interests. We need to professionally appraise the needs and concerns of different groups in our community in order to devise an appropriate plan that could maximise social benefits. In formulating statutory plans for Sha Lo Wan and San Tau as well as Sham Wat and San Shek Wan, which are currently rural areas covered by extensive vegetation with clusters of rural settlements, we strived to strike a proper balance between conservation of natural areas and development needs of local villagers. We engaged different stakeholders in the early planning stage, such as local villagers and environmental and concern groups, with the aim to incorporating progressive adjustments to the planning scheme throughout the planning process in response to their views and demands. This experience is truly meaningful and rewarding to me as a young planner.
Tell us about any work you’ve done to help your local community
Planning is inextricably affiliated with the local community. Apart from my current capacity as the Honorary Secretary of The Hong Kong Institute of Planners (HKIP), I have been committed to take up different roles to promote the understanding and foster participation in urban affairs of various community groups.
From 2014 to 2018, I was the Education Director of the Hong Kong Public Space Initiative (HKPSI), which is a non-government organisation dedicated to promoting the importance of public space to all walks of life. During my voluntary involvement in the HKPSI, I organised more than 15 school talks and/or workshops for students from primary/secondary/tertiary schools to share the fundamentals of public space design. My team also designed a three-day summer programme, with included workshops on topics like orienteering and park design, for 84 students from 15 secondary schools to experience both public and privately-owned public spaces in Hong Kong.
Tell us about your work with the HKIP Young Planners Group
When I was the co-chairperson of the Young Planners Group, I worked with a team of talented young planners to study how Hong Kong could be transformed into an age-friendly city amidst the pressing aging tsunami. The team selected Sham Shui Po as a case study, which is one of the districts with the largest proportion of aged population and building blocks. It was an unforgettable experience for me, since the team had adopted an array of engagement practices, such as focus groups, interviews, field trips, with a view to soliciting first-hand views and opinions from various stakeholders, including groups of senior citizens. All findings were presented in various occasions and publications, including the China Annual Planning Conference 2017 and the HKIP Journal, thereby sharing our engagement findings/outcomes with the peers and various stakeholders in the community.
Your spare time
What do you do when you are not planning?
Recently I took up the role as the Vice-President of the alumni association of a non-residential hall of The Chinese University of Hong Kong. I had fond memories of my hall life during my undergraduate studies. I wish to contribute and support the younger generations, especially in the post-COVID era. I am also a big fan of Arsenal Football Club and I would not miss a single match every week on TV. Watching a live football match at the Emirates Stadium has always been on my bucket list!