Democrats seek open debate on cultural hub

PUBLISHED : Friday, 08 April, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 08 April, 2005, 12:00am

The Democratic Party yesterday asked the Town Planning Board to postpone its planned discussion today of the party's request for tighter planning control over the West Kowloon Cultural District. It now wants the discussion to be held in an open meeting.

Party vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he had sent a letter to the board asking the members to use an administrative measure to open the meeting to the public.

'We don't want our request to be heard behind closed doors,' Mr Ho said.

The Democrats applied to the board in January, asking it to rezone the 40-hectare project as a comprehensive development area.

An amendment to the Town Planning Ordinance, which permits open meetings, had been passed but its effective date has not yet been decided.

'Although it has not yet taken effect, the board has the power to open the meeting,' Mr Ho said.

He said the party had been told about the meeting only on Wednesday. 'It is too rushed; we need more time [to prepare our case].'

A spokeswoman for the board said they had received supplementary material from the party since its application.

She said members would discuss the application and the new material presented.

The site is now zoned for 'other uses', which allows greater flexibility and more changes in planning without board approval.

The government wants to turn the site into a cultural hub, to be managed by a single consortium for 30 years.

Under the 'other use' zoning, the board is not required to approve every change in design. If the Democrats' application is approved, any development on the site would be subject to approval by the board.

The government would also have to canvass public views, through public hearings conducted by the board.