Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (December 15):
One of the mandatory requirements stipulated in the Invitation For Proposals for the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) is the provision of the canopy proposed in the Foster scheme, covering at least 55% of the development area. The Government has pointed out that the scheme, which won the West Kowloon Reclamation Concept Plan Competition, is well received by the public and has attracted little adverse criticism. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether systematic and comprehensive consultation has been conducted on the above requirement; if so, of the details and results of the consultation; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) whether it has assessed if a canopy covering over half of WKCD is required to serve as a landmark of Hong Kong; if it has, of the assessment results; and
(c) of the respective quoted prices for the construction of the canopy in the proposals submitted by the three screened-in proponents, and whether any assessment has been made on the annual repair and maintenance costs of the canopy; if so, of the assessment results; if not, the reasons for that?
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) In 2001, the Government held the Concept Plan Competition for the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD). A total of 161 entries were received. A jury with ten members, including internationally acclaimed figures in the field of architecture, was formed to assess these entries. In early 2002, the jury named the winners of the first and second prizes as well as three honourable mentions. The first-prize winner, Foster and Partners, has come up with a design that features the Canopy as the signature design and centrepiece of the development. As mentioned by the Chief Secretary for Administration in the LegCo motion debate last November, the LegCo were briefed of the results of the competition and the details of the design of the first-prize winning entry in May 2002. After the announcement of the results, both the Home Affairs Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department conducted a series of consultations on the cultural facilities of the WKCD to collect views from the arts and cultural sector. At the same time, we held exhibitions for the public in various parts of the territory displaying the first-prize winning design between March and October 2002. We have been getting support for the winning submission and very little criticism.
(b) Having taking into consideration the assessment results of the international jury and the views of the public on the design, the Steering Committee for the Development of the WKCD, chaired by the Chief Secretary for Administration, announced in October 2002 that the design would be adopted in principle as the basis of the masterplan for WKCD. I would like to point out that the Canopy is not only an icon. It is also an indispensable part of the WKCD for its many merits and functions. We have taken into account these merits, the views of Members and the public, as well as other relevant factors before adopting this design.
In the papers submitted to the Panel in May 2002 and July 2003, as well as in my oral reply to the question raised by the Hon Wong Shing-chi on May 19, 2004, it was pointed out that the Canopy is the key feature of the first-prize winning design of the Concept Plan Competition. The distinctive Canopy will produce an impressive and captivating visual effect and become an icon around the world. It can attract the public and tourists to visit the WKCD, thus bringing us actual economic benefits. Moreover, the Canopy is essential to the overall layout and design of the WKCD for it will link various facilities in the district and integrate different kinds of land use. Providing an open yet comfortable environment for the outdoor cultural facilities and the extensive open space in the WKCD, the Canopy makes it possible for the public and arts and cultural groups to enjoy the facilities even during inclement weather. It can also reduce the noise generated by outdoor activities in the WKCD, thus minimising the impact on nearby residents. The unique advantages of the Canopy cannot be replaced by other designs. We therefore consider it an indispensable element in the WKCD.
(c) According to the Invitation for Proposals for the development of the WKCD, proponents' financial proposals should cover the estimated expenses for constructing and maintaining the Canopy. The assessment of proposals has not been completed. I do not take part in the assessment, so I have no knowledge of the estimates made by the proponents. The Chief Secretary for Administration explained through his letter to all Members last week why the Government cannot make public the financial information in the proposals at this stage. However, we understand that Members and the public would like to know more about the financial proposals. As long as the negotiation position of the Government will no longer be affected, we will disclose all relevant financial information after seeking proponents' consents before signing the provisional agreement.
Ends/Wednesday, December 15, 2004