Following is a question by the Hon Lee Wing-tat and a written reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (January 26):
Regarding development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, will the Government inform this Council:
(a) whether it has, in compliance with the General Conditions set out in the paper released for the Concept Plan Competition for the Development of an Integrated Arts, Cultural and Entertainment District at the West Kowloon Reclamation in Hong Kong ("the Scheme Area"), appointed a team through the normal consultants selection process to finalize a detailed masterplan for the Scheme Area on the basis of the winning conceptual proposals; if such a team has been appointed, of its composition and terms of reference; if not, the reasons for that;
(b) as the General Conditions also stipulate that based on the detailed masterplan, the authorities will then decide on how the Scheme Area will be developed, and that packages within the Scheme Area suitable for private sector development will be decided by public tender, while subsequent architectural design competitions may be conducted for selected individual buildings/facilities, whether the authorities have acted in violation of the General Conditions in issuing the Invitation For Proposals instead of public tender documents for the development of the Scheme Area, and whether they will conduct architectural design competitions for selected individual buildings/facilities; if they will, of the details of the competitions; if they will not, the reasons for that; and
(c) whether it will negotiate with the successful proponent on the development parameters in the proponent's proposal before entering into a provisional agreement; if so, whether the authorities will, in the course of negotiation, impose restrictions on the scope of alterations that may be made to the proposal; if so, of the details of the restrictions?
In 2001, the Government held a Concept Plan Competition to invite conceptual proposals for the development of a prominent waterfront area in West Kowloon into an integrated arts, cultural and entertainment district. The General Conditions in the competition documents issued by the Government at that time reflected Government's initial thinking on the development as a reference for interested parties. The Government had not made any decision on the mode and procedures for the development at that time. The competition was completed in 2002, with the international jury selecting the first prize winner, the second prize winner and three honourable mentions. We briefed the Legislative Council Panel on Planning, Lands and Works on the competition results in May 2002.
My reply to the three-part question is as follows:
(a) The Government did not engage a team of consultants to finalise a detailed masterplan for the Scheme Area on the basis of the winning conceptual proposals because, after taking into account the planning concepts of the winning entries, the Steering Committee for the Development of the West Kowloon Cultural District (Steering Committee) was of the view that the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) should be developed in an integrated manner with the inclusion of commercial and residential elements. This development mode was adopted with a view to tapping the financial resources of the private sector for construction of the WKCD and to manage and operate the WKCD facilities on a self-financing basis. To achieve this objective, the Steering Committee considered that the private sector with its commercial knowledge and experience would be better placed to formulate the masterplan than a team of consultants appointed by the Government. In adopting this mode of development, the need to expedite the development of the WKCD as far as possible had also been taken into account so as to meet the pressing public demand for arts and cultural facilities and to create employment opportunities. The Steering Committee therefore decided to invite the private sector to submit masterplans based on the design concept of the first prize winner and to submit proposals for the development, operation and financial arrangements of the whole WKCD. Accordingly, the Steering Committee considered the engagement of a consultant to work on a detailed masterplan for WKCD not necessary.
(b) The Government did not adopt the tendering method. Instead, the Government issued the Invitation for Proposals to invite development proposals from the private sector because the Steering Committee, after taking the winning entries as reference, decided to adopt a community-driven approach whereby the private sector would be responsible for the development and operation of the WKCD. Having regard to the scale and the complexity of the project, it was believed that sufficient flexibility should be built into the process to allow the Government to negotiate with the proponents who were interested in the development and operation of the WKCD, in order that the Government could select a proposal that would best meet public aspirations and which was in the best public interest. Traditional tendering could not provide the desired flexibility. The Invitation for Proposals was endorsed by the Steering Committee in May 2003. Subsequently, we briefed the Executive Council on the plan to issue the Invitation for Proposals and, before issuing the Invitation for Proposals, submitted a progress report on the development of the WKCD to the Legislative Council Panel on Planning, Lands and Works in July 2003 setting out Government's decision to invite interested developers to submit proposals. In general, we received positive response from Members at the meeting on the various arrangements set out in the progress report.
According to the Invitation for Proposals, proponents are required to submit proposals for the development of the whole WKCD, including overall and individual building designs. As a result the Government did not conduct architectural design competition for individual buildings or facilities.
(c) The Government is assessing in detail the proposals which met the mandatory requirements set out in the Invitation for Proposals. At the same time the Government is consulting the public on these proposals and will take into account public views collected. In the next stage, the Government will shortlist proponent(s), and negotiate with the shortlisted proponent(s) with a view to improving the proposal(s) before selecting the preferred proposal. We will strive for a proposal which is in the best interest of the public before signing a provisional agreement with the selected proponent. We will take into account public views and the results of the assessment before finalising the details of the negotiations.
Ends/Wednesday, January 26, 2005