'Give arts hub Venetian touch'

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 10 March, 2012, 12:00am


A proposed monorail for the West Kowloon Cultural District could be replaced with more eco-friendly transport, the arts hub authority told Town Planning Board members when it introduced its master layout plan yesterday.

The suggestion arose as board members said accessibility to the 40-hectare site was one of their major concerns, with one suggestion Venetian-style water taxis.

Board member Anna Kwong Sum-yee suggested the advantages of a water taxi system like that used in Venice. 'Given the availability of pontoons in the design, water taxi tours will be suitable and allows visitors to tour around the whole arts hub in half an hour,' she said.

Kwong said similar transport could be found in Singapore and Thailand.

Another board member, Dr Lo Wai-kok, said: 'How can a visitor walk from the Xiqu Centre in the east to the mega performance venue in the west? It's like walking from Jordan to the Star Ferry Pier in Tsim Sha Tsui.'

Lo urged the authority to plan extensively for connections within the site, especially for the elderly and handicapped. He also asked if the monorail proposal was still in the plan.

The authority's executive director, Dr Chan Man-wai, replied that the distance from the east side to the west side was about 1.5 kilometres, but the authority had planned transport within the hub to allow easier access, including a travelator, or moving walkway, to convey visitors from opposite ends of the site.

Chan said the travelator would be covered to allow travel in all types of weather. He also disclosed that the authority might replace the proposed monorail with eco-buses or trams that would connect the arts hub with other parts of Tsim Sha Tsui. Critics have said that a monorail would be expensive and could block the view of the harbour.

Julia Lau Man-kwan, another board member, questioned whether visitors needed to walk 500 metres to a venue after parking their cars.

Chan said parking spaces would be spread across the site. There would also be plenty of dropping-off areas throughout the district, especially along Austin Road.

According to the master layout plan, the design will adopt a stepped-height approach with lower buildings located near the harbour. The highest building at the site would be no higher than 100 metres.

Of the total gross floor area of 739,550 square metres, no more than 20 per cent would be designated for residential use, the authority said.

While arts and cultural facilities will account for 35 per cent to 40 per cent of space, retail, dining and entertainment facilities would cover about 20 per cent of the floor area. The remaining 25 per cent would be designated for hotels and offices.

A spokeswoman for the Planning Department said the board endorsed the authority's plan after discussion yesterday. The plan will be on show for two months.