West Kowloon Cultural District

Piecemeal cultural project is rejected

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 08 October, 2003, 12:00am

The government has rejected calls for the Norman Foster-designed West Kowloon Cultural District to be divided into parcels so that small developers will be able to play a part in the project.

Officials from the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau said yesterday that such a move would complicate the 40-hectare project and could end up costing taxpayers far more to develop than the original $24 billion budget.

Last night, Deputy Secretary for Planning and Lands Thomas Tso Man-tai said the continuous nature of the design, stretching more than 1.5km, meant it would be best suited to a single project manager.

'It looks like a number of buildings scattered along the site but, in fact, they are all connected by a central spine ... and covered by one huge awning.' But he said there was 'a lot of scope for many property developers to be involved, given its large scale'.

Since the government launched its request for proposals to develop the project last week, small developers have been fuming over what they see as favouritism towards the large property development companies. The government has made it clear that it plans to award the project to a single consortium.

Kwok Pak-lam, head of co-ordination for the project, said that on a practical note the individual parts of the development - which will include theatres and concert halls - would also share central building services, like air-conditioning and fire safety systems, as well as building management.

As such, he said the government would need to allocate more funds to oversee management of various developers.