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Sun Hung Kai Properties won the tender for the plot of land on top of the West Kowloon high-speed rail station for HK$42.2 billion in November 2019. Photo: Winson Wong

Sun Hung Kai Properties to amend West Kowloon plan after Town Planning Board says there is room for improvement

  • SHKP failed to ‘demonstrate that there are outstanding planning or design merits to justify the proposed relaxation of building height restrictions’
  • SHKP says it will improve the project’s plan as per the Town Planning Board’s wishes, with particular focus on reducing building height and use of open space

Sun Hung Kai Properties will amend the plan for its HK$60 billion (US$7.7 billion) West Kowloon project in accordance with requirements of the Town Planning Board, after it rejected the developer’s application.

The Town Planning Board said SHKP’s application, submitted in September, failed to “demonstrate that there are outstanding planning or design merits to justify the proposed relaxation of building height restrictions, which would breach the ridge line from strategic viewpoint”, according to the minutes of a meeting on January 22.

The board also said there was “still room to improve the scheme such as providing a more inclusive and vibrant open space, better integrating the old neighbourhood with the new developments, as well as providing more public gains to the local community”.

“We will improve our plan in accordance with the Town Planning Board’s comments, particularly focusing on reducing the height of our buildings and improving the usability of the open space,” Timothy Mak Ming-tim, SHKP’s project director, said at a briefing on Friday.

The plan submitted by SHKP in September for the HK$60 billion West Kowloon project includes a walkway connecting the West Kowloon waterfront to Tai Kok Tsui. Photo: Handout
In September, Hong Kong’s largest developer had made several changes to its original plan for the West Kowloon project which had been approved by the Town Planning Board.

These included reducing the number of commercial towers from three to two, while adding four-stories to each tower and increasing the height of each office floor from 3.85 metres to 4.2 metres. The amount of open space and green cover was also to be increased considerably.

Expected to be completed in phases by 2028, the project design included a 1.5km walkway that connects the entire West Kowloon neighbourhood and called for plenty of greenery between the buildings. It also included 38,000 sq ft of open space for the central plaza, four times that of Times Square.

The project design included 38,000 sq ft of open space, four times that of Times Square. Photo: Sam Tsang

“We hope to review the application of the project design in the second half of the year, and will have discussions with the government about a suitable format to do so,” said Rebecca Wong, planning director at SHKP.

“We are still studying the proper reduction to the height of the buildings to minimise the effect on the ridge line,” Wong said.

She added that they planned to enlarge the interconnecting open space on the second floor of the project, providing a more direct connection to the walkway, and would conduct surveys with nearby residents over the coming two to three months.

In November 2019, SHKP won the parcel with a record HK$42.2 billion bid, or HK$13,345 per sq ft. It was the largest commercial land parcel in Hong Kong, equivalent to 47 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

The whole plot can be built into 3.17 million sq ft of gross floor area for retail, office or hotel use, or about 12 per cent more than the space in nearby ICC, Hong Kong’s tallest skyscraper.