Plan to revamp community hall should Sunbeam Theatre close

PUBLISHED : Friday, 09 January, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 09 January, 2009, 12:00am

A community hall with upgraded facilities, instead of a purpose-built theatre, would be able to cater for lovers of Cantonese opera in North Point if Sunbeam Theatre closes, the Planning Department said yesterday.

Last year, the Town Planning Board asked the government to reconsider its decision not to provide a Cantonese opera centre on the former North Point Estate site, set for commercial and residential development, to serve the area's ageing population.

But the department said in a draft planning brief that such a centre might not be necessary and instead suggested upgrading a proposed community hall at the site, with a slightly larger stage and better lighting and sound systems for small cultural performances.

The department said an additional venue in North Point would not be necessary because new venues would be available in the West Kowloon Cultural District and Yau Ma Tei, and the Ko Shan Theatre in Hung Hom would be expanded to accommodate the shows if the Sunbeam Theatre closed.

The Sunbeam Theatre faces closure because of a drastic rent rise, but the government is in a deal with its owner to keep the venue open until an alternative is available.

Eastern district councillor Desmond Lee Yu-tai said upgrading the future community hall was a welcome suggestion, although the hall would not be comparable to a purpose-built theatre. North Point residents were keen on Cantonese opera, he said, and shows at a community hall in neighbouring Quarry Bay had always been full.

Apart from the community hall, the draft planning brief includes a government-commissioned air-ventilation study for the harbourfront site.

It found that the podiums of the proposed hotel and the residential towers in the central part of the site would present a significant obstacle to prevailing winds, causing low wind speeds at Java Road and North Point Estate Lane. The study suggested a reduction in the size, height and solidity of the podium, and adjusting the spacing between buildings to improve air flow. The Town Planning Board will discuss the draft planning brief today.

Meanwhile, the Southern District Council passed a motion urging the government to consult it again on the hotel development plan for Repulse Bay's Seaview Building.