With the implementation of the Energizing Kowloon East (EKE) initiative, the old industrial areas in Kowloon East (KE) and the former Kai Tak Airport site have been gradually transformed into a second core business district (CBD) in Hong Kong over a period of nearly 10 years. In addition to increasing commercial floorspace, the initiative also strives to improve the environment in the district, enhance connectivity and create significantly more public open space, providing the public with relaxing sanctuaries among dense commercial buildings. Early last month, the Permanent Secretary for Development (Works), LAU Chun-kit, Ricky, and I visited the InPARK on Tsun Yip Street, Kwun Tong. There, the Head of Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO), Amy CHEUNG, shared with us the work of EKEO in enhancing public open space.
More than 17 hectares of open space created or renovated
Amy CHEUNG remarks that since the establishment of the EKEO in 2012, over 17 hectares of open space have been newly provided or renovated in KE, nearly the size of the Victoria Park. Projects which were completed earlier include the Kwun Tong Promenade, covering the over 900-metre long promenade open space, which has enlivened the image of Kwun Tong waterfront. There are also the Fly the Flyover sites beneath Kwun Tong Bypass for creativity, arts and culture venues, as well as recently completed projects such as the InPARK, Tsui Ping River Garden, Hoi Bun Road Park and Kai Tak Sky Garden.
Gradual completion of more leisure space
In the coming years, a number of open space projects will be completed, including the improvement of Lam Wah Street Playground to increase greening coverage and enhance amenities and the revitalisation of the King Yip Street nullah into Tsui Ping River. Projects which are being taken forward include the district open space, sports centre and public vehicle park at Sze Mei Street in San Po Kong, and the redevelopment of the Choi Hung Road Playground and Sports Centre (including Choi Hung Road Market), seeking to improve the sports and recreation facilities and incorporate other uses to meet the needs of the community, as well as the construction and improvement works of the Kai Tak Runway Park.
InPARK with an industrial culture theme
InPARK, the place we visited, has a total area of about 8 440 square metres. It was the former Tsun Yip Street Playground (TYSPG) built in 1973. In tandem with Kwun Tong’s transformation from an industrial area occupied mainly by factories into a business area, improvement works in TYSPG were carried out in two stages and opened to the public in 2014 and 2019 respectively.
Amy CHEUNG says “In” stands for “Industrial”, which is symbolic to its industrial area in the past. At the same time, “In” also means “being trendy”. After two stages of improvement works, the TYSPG has been transformed from a hard surfaced soccer pitch into a park with an industrial culture theme, providing a central lawn, sitting-out areas, and a multi-purpose area for performances and exhibitions. Seven sets of artwork featuring industries of KE in the past (i.e. clothing and garments, toys, electronics, timepieces, etc.) have also been installed. The public can enjoy an artistic ambience with industrial culture elements while relaxing in the open space. The basketball court in the park is what attracts me the most. It is very convenient for office workers to play basketball after work or even during lunch hour.
Hoi Bun Road Park in Kwun Tong
Hoi Bun Road Park in Kwun Tong is another recommended open space in KE. Its improvement works were completed in the middle of last year, and the park was reopened in late August. Amy CHEUNG says that the park, with an area of about 9 300 square metres, is located in the heart of the Kwun Tong Business Area and is a rare spacious open space among the dense commercial buildings. The park features a large lawn which the public like, landscaped areas, a five-a-side soccer pitch and a covered multi-purpose area. An interactive lighting system featuring “starry sky” is installed on the shelter of the multi-purpose area which will be activated at certain times of the evenings. The project has recently won an award from the Hong Kong Institute of Landscape Architects.
Additional facilities at Kai Tak Runway Park
In addition, the Kai Tak Sky Garden, built along the central axis along the former runway of the Kai Tak Airport, was opened in May last year. As for the Kai Tak Runway Park, although it is currently a temporary facility, it has a large lawn for the public to enjoy the view of the Victoria Harbour in close proximity; and a retired fixed-wing aircraft Jetstream 41 from the Government Flying Service is also on display to echo with the aviation theme of the park. In future, the Kai Tak Runway Park will be enhanced with facilities that appeal to the general public, such as zip-lines and adventure-filled children's play facilities.
80 percent of respondents satisfied or very satisfied
Amy CHEUNG says that the EKEO has conducted a user survey on three public open space projects in Kwun Tong District which were completed in recent years, namely InPARK, Tsui Ping River Garden and Hoi Bun Road Park. The survey was conducted between September and October last year and 1 200 users were interviewed. The results showed that over 80 percent of the respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the three open space projects. In particular, they liked the large lawn and more greenery provision. These design elements will therefore be adopted in future public open space projects.
Substantial increase in commercial floor area
The EKE initiative is an innovative district development concept proposed by the Government. A number of tasks have been implemented, including the provision of quality public space, improvement of the pedestrian environment, promotion of greening, beautification of rivers and nullahs, and advocacy of smart city development, etc. The most significant achievement is the substantial increase in commercial floorspace in the district. Since 2012, 61 private commercial development projects have been completed in KE, the total commercial floor area in the district has increased by about 70 percent to 2.9 million square metres at present. Taking into account projects under construction or approved, it will further increase to about 3.9 million square metres. Upon completion of a number of projects under planning, the scale of commercial development in KE will be comparable to that of the Central CBD.
The EKE initiative carries special significance
As KE is a traditional industrial area with a high development density, there are many challenges in the process of transformation. The Government set up the EKEO with a long-term vision. Through years of collaboration with public and private stakeholders, the EKEO has gradually brought the vision of Energizing Kowloon East into reality, turning KE into a CBD, which not only brings more job opportunities, but also boosts urban regeneration, improves public space and community facilities, as well as enhances the environment, making the project particularly significant.
16 January, 2022Back