Councillors reach compromise with MTR Corp on 3km extension The MTR Corporation and district councillors have settled their differences over the planned West Island line, held up by a row over a proposal to use the Kennedy Town swimming pool for property development. Central and Western councillors have accepted an alternative under which the railway instead would redevelop the former police quarters nearby. The proposal, which should have been submitted to the government two months ago, did not reach the Environment, Transport and Works Bureau until yesterday. But the MTR Corp said the project could be finished on time in 2012 if the government approved the draft by the end of this year. Under the corporation's business plan, it is granted property development rights by the government as a rail service subsidy. The latest proposal runs counter to past practice under which it has developed sites immediately above its stations. The police quarters site in Ka Wai Man Road is about 600 metres from the planned Kennedy Town station, one of three on the 3km extension to the Island line from Sheung Wan. But the chartered surveyor and executive director of Vigers Appraisal & Consulting, Tony Chan Tung-ngok, said it was a better development prospect. 'The site has a tranquil environment and the density is lower, which is perfect for the development of luxury flats,' he said. 'I think suites on upper floors with sea views may cost more than HK$14,000 per square foot.' Mr Chan said the site, which was bigger than the one at the swimming pool, would be worth about HK$3.5 billion, which fitted in with the government's promise to contribute no more than half of the project's cost, estimated at HK$6 billion to HK$7 billion. He said the swimming pool site is surrounded by tall buildings and would have created environmental issues for the neighbourhood. Central and Western District Council chairman Chan Tak-chor welcomed the new proposal, and praised the corporation for listening to councillors' views. 'A residential building [on the pool site] would not only block the scenery of others, but will also create transport problems.' Other compromises include adjustments to the location of the exits. Two exits in Sands Street at the Kennedy Town station were removed from the plan and an elevator coupled with a footbridge will be used instead to link the steep street to the station. Two exits will be added to connect First Street and Second Street to the Sai Ying Pun station. A bureau spokeswoman said the proposal would be studied with the balance of all interests and careful consideration of transport, economic and financial factors. But the bureau would not provide a deadline for making a decision.