Alternative ideas need to be looked at to preserve integrity of the cultural hub
I understand that the Town Planning Board will soon be making a final decision on the future development of the West Kowloon Cultural District site based on the ill-designed plan submitted by the government.
I would like to know why over the last five years the government has dismissed proposals put forward by citizen advocacy group Hong Kong Alternatives. We called for a total utilisation of the valuable underground space. This space, 25 metres deep, if properly designed by architects, could bring financial returns far in excess of the sum estimated by the government.
It is irresponsible of the administration to bulldoze its proposals through the cultural district authority and Town Planning Board.
It wants them to accept a plan which allots 59 per cent of the gross floor area for property development, leaving only 41 per cent for cultural facilities. There is also a hidden agenda involving the sale of 20 per cent of the site for housing.
We have consistently called on officials to preserve the integrity of the site. The underground space could become the city's future central transport and commercial/shopping hub, and the above-ground area could be a cultural green park.
Our group was invited to speak on five occasions at the West Kowloon Cultural District subcommittee meetings when Alan Leong Kah-kit was the chairman. Some of our recommended 'alternatives' were wisely accepted at the time. These included disposal of the giant canopy design, reserving at least half of the land for our future green park, establishing an independent culture authority and the appointment of a world-renowned architect to be responsible for the overall design.
Unfortunately, once a new subcommittee chairman took over, there was no positive response to further submissions.
Was the subcommittee told to reject the options we suggested? I wish to make it clear that Hong Kong Alternatives has only one aim - to create a West Kowloon cultural green park as a lasting legacy for the city. All our proposed alternatives are based on sound knowledge and a good database, and are in accordance with the basic principles of financial self-sufficiency, social harmony, environmental sustainability and feasibility.
A total of 90 copies of our proposed plan are now in the hands of the board. I wonder if the chairman and members of the subcommittee would support us or explain how we can have better communication with the government.
K. N. Wai, on behalf of Hong Kong Alternatives