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Old December 20th, 2005, 05:14 PM   #241
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Plans for West Kowloon lure 138,000 to exhibition
Martin Wong
28 March 2005
South China Morning Post

More than 138,000 people have visited the exhibition on the West Kowloon cultural hub proposals in City Hall, government officials said yesterday.

The display closes today and the exhibition will move to Sha Tin next month, where the three shortlisted proposals for the controversial project will be on view.

The exhibition was first staged at the Science Museum in Tsim Sha Tsui from December 16, before moving to City Hall last month.

"Members of the public are welcome to visit the exhibition and give their views. Public views are important for the development of the project and the government will give due consideration to these views in making a decision on the next step," a government spokesman said.

The spokesman added that more than 21,900 comment cards and 270 written submissions had been received on the proposals.

Visitors to the exhibition were handed the comment cards to gather their views on the three competing bids, including the layout, the balance between commercial, residential and cultural development and the vast canopy.

The exhibition at City Hall closes at 8pm today. It would move to the Hong Kong Heritage Museum in Sha Tin in mid-April, a government spokesman said.

The display will end on June 30.
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Old December 21st, 2005, 05:32 AM   #242
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Old December 21st, 2005, 07:35 AM   #243
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HKAPA at West Kowloon Cultural District

The Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts has been closely monitoring the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District since it was first announced by Government. Of particular interest is the common desire of both the HKSAR Government and the arts community to include educational elements where possible within the development.

There would be considerable benefits to the successful developer from such inclusion. In the Academy's experience, parents and other family members generally accompany their children to classes and performances related to performing arts courses. These people are by and large from demographic groups with disposable income, and would be passing in large numbers through the commercial areas of the site en route to and from the cultural precinct.

It is anticipated in the Academy's future planning that by the time West Kowloon is completed, the student population will have expanded from the current base of 750 full time students, 800 junior students and 5,000 extra-mural students per annum, to a target of at least 1,200 full time students, 1,600 junior students and 20,000 extra-mural students of all ages. The current facilities at Wanchai are already at capacity, and although a heritage building at Pokfulam has recently been assigned for use by the Academy, additional space will be needed before long to house the anticipated growth.

The Academy therefore proposes that an extension of the Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts be included in the West Kowloon Cultural District.

The particular growth areas that are contemplated, in addition to the expansion of existing full-time programmes, include the various important aspects of popular culture such as jazz, popular music, commercial dance, entertainment technology, puppetry and regional Chinese traditional theatre. Experience to date with extra-mural studies in these subject areas indicates that there is strong demand for such courses in Hong Kong and it is believed that they will complement the Academy's existing programmes in the established mainstream performing arts disciplines. Because of their broad appeal, these new subject areas would have a synergetic relationship with the more commercial aspects of West Kowloon.

The Academy is the only institution in Hong Kong, and indeed in Asia, offering professional training in all of the performing arts disciplines including dance, drama, western and Chinese music, Chinese traditional theatre, the related technical arts, film and television. In the past 20 years, the achievements of Academy graduates have established a reputation for excellence as they contribute to the re-definition of Hong Kong's unique cultural identity. The Academy would enhance the prestige of the West Kowloon development with high quality educational programmes and related performances with broad public appeal.

Further details of the facilities that would be required to support the Academy's future expansion and training provisions in the above-mentioned disciplines can be obtained from:

Mr Philip Soden
Associate Director (Operations)
Hong Kong Academy for Performing Arts
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Old December 21st, 2005, 07:01 PM   #244
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Golf course for cultural district site
Chloe Lai
30 March 2005
South China Morning Post

Sun Hung Kai Properties is building a nine-hole golf course at the West Kowloon Cultural District site.

The Lands Department last month awarded a short-term tenancy contract to Joint Charm Limited, a subsidiary of the property giant.

The site awarded is close to The Arch, Sun Hung Kai's latest up-market residential project above Kowloon Station.

Under the contract, the property giant will pay a monthly rent of $258,000 for 48,100 square metres - about one tenth of the reclaimed site designated for the cultural hub project.

The fixed-term contract will expire at the end of next year, after which the contract will be renewed on a quarterly basis.

The property giant has teamed up with Cheung Kong Holdings to bid for the West Kowloon Cultural District contract.

Other contenders are Sunny Development, a consortium of Sino Land, Wharf (Holdings) and Chinese Estate Holdings; and World City Culture Park, a Henderson Land subsidiary.

Under the government's plan, construction of the cultural hub will begin in 2007.

The Lands Department also used short-term tenancy to tender out a 54,900 square metre site within the cultural hub area. It wanted to have hot-air balloon rides or tethered helium balloon rides, but later withdrew the offer.
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Old December 23rd, 2005, 10:25 PM   #245
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West Kowloon judicial review bid fails
Albert Wong
26 April 2005
Hong Kong Standard
English

It may have been sold to the public as a cultural endeavor but legally the West Kowloon cultural district project is principally a commercial and residential scheme, the High Court has ruled in dismissing an application for a judicial review.

The application for a judicial review into the legality of choosing the developer for the cultural district without representatives from the arts community was dismissed because the High Court judge did not consider the project to be solely designed for arts and cultural purposes.

According to the information available, Justice Michael Hartmann said, more than 67 percent of the project was earmarked for commercial and residential developments.

``Less than 30 percent is reserved for what is described as core arts and culture facilities,'' he said. ``The development is not focused solely on arts and culture infrastructure.''

Hartmann said he agreed with the government's lawyer when he said last week that the government is acting in accordance with private law matters as a private property developer.

``It may well have been the most appropriate course for the chief executive to appoint a member'' of the Arts Development Council to choose the developer, the judge said, but he can only judge on the legality of the process, not the wisdom of the process.

Therefore, the application for a judicial review ``is, regrettably, misconceived,'' he said.

The Association of Chinese Authors and Publishers in Hong Kong and Macau claimed the failure to allow a member of the Arts Development Council to take part in choosing the developer contravenes the Basic Law.

Representing the association, Jimmy Siu said the council is a statutory body that is legally bound to involve itself in cultural matters of such a large scale. The chief executive is also bound by Article 48 of the Basic Law to appoint the appropriate statutory bodies according to their functions, he said.

Since both the steering committee and the proposals evaluation committee _ the two bodies responsible for choosing the developer _ only consist of senior civil servants, both the chief executive and the council have failed in their duties, Siu claimed.

Hartmann said on Monday that the two committees were not overly concerned with arts and cultural facilities in deciding on the developer.

``The committees will not be looking solely into arts and culture infrastructure, but also looking very much into things that do not fall into the mandate of the council, namely commercial and residential elements.''

He said that since the government made provisions to exhibit models and conduct public consultations, the council has a broad range of channels through which to advise the government and fulfil its mandate.

Siu said he accepted the judge's ruling and is unlikely to seek an appeal.
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Old December 24th, 2005, 02:12 AM   #246
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ENOUGH with this legal horse shit!!! Stop posting news until the backhoe moves in!
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Old December 30th, 2005, 09:15 AM   #247
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The Arch bridges luxury market
West Kowloon may eventually give The Peak a run for its money but it has a long way to go to become a prestigious address

Foster Wong and Peggy Sito
27 April 2005
South China Morning Post

The recent record-breaking sale of a penthouse condo in the 52-storey The Arch residential project in West Kowloon has redefined the luxury residential sector in Hong Kong, but the district has a long way to go before it can be called prestigious.

Property consultants and investors said reclaimed West Kowloon was not yet on the prestige property list along with The Peak or Island South in terms of living environment and capital appreciation.

Sun Hung Kai Properties earlier this month sold a 5,353 sqft penthouse in The Arch for $168 million, or a unit price of $31,300 per sqft - a record for all residential transactions in Hong Kong.

The developer said it was creating new demand for luxury flats in Kowloon as the location was well connected to public transport networks and offered unique views of Hong Kong, particularly the bright lights at night.

Victor Lui Ting, an executive director at Sun Hung Kai Real Estate Agency, said: "Not everyone wants to live on The Peak or in Island South.

"I think the potential for West Kowloon to become a new benchmark for luxury residential living cannot be overlooked."

Mr Lui said there was increasing demand by entrepreneurs wanting easy access to transport for frequent trips to the mainland, something traditional luxury residential districts did not provide.

He said many buyers were looking for a metropolitan lifestyle in luxury homes, with facilities such as a clubhouse, that overlooked Victoria Harbour.

Eddie Hui Chi-man, associate professor of the department of building and real estate at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University, said: "It is not wrong to say that the new features in high-rise properties, such as waterfront environments, clubhouse facilities and good security, are the factors that attract the new generation of wealthy people."

But this may not be enough to turn West Kowloon into a new prestige area comparable to upmarket addresses on Hong Kong Island.

Landscape Surveyors managing director Koh Keng-shing said: "There are a number of typical criteria to judge if it is a prestige luxury area - low-density housing, private gardens and the neighbourhood.

"The super-rich and celebrities will not live there [West Kowloon]. It is hard to create a prestige concept."

CB Richard Ellis residential services director Jane Garnett said: "I think it's a new area to be considered for luxury living. But I don't think it will take away much of the business from the traditional residential areas such as The Peak."

She did not expect the record high price of The Arch would be sustained.

A record price for one particular unit was not a genuine reflection of all the prices in that development, she said.

Property consultants said scarcity of supply and low density were the key factors that kept demand bubbling for luxury houses on The Peak.

However, there was too much competition in the high-rise apartment sector in Kowloon and on Hong Kong Island.

According to a government forecast, supply in Kowloon is set to grow.

The district will provide more than a third of the 17,400 residential units to be completed next year.

The West Kowloon area is undergoing major developments, including the government's controversial West Kowloon Cultural District project and the proposed Kowloon Southern Link connecting the East Rail to the mainland.

By 2008, Ritz-Carlton will open the world's tallest hotel, offering 300 rooms on the upper 13 floors of a 100-storey-plus tower to be built by SHKP at Kowloon Station.

Mr Hui said the innovative marketing campaigns of developers were instrumental in growing demand for luxury homes in new areas.

About 90 per cent of the 1,052 units in The Arch, due for completion next year, were snapped up during the pre-sale in little more than a week.

The overwhelming response has generated about $10 billion for SHKP, the biggest developer in the city.
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Old January 14th, 2006, 05:00 AM   #248
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'Defend West Kowloon project', Tsang challenged
Sylvia Hui
25 May 2005
Hong Kong Standard

Acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang should clearly explain his visions and policies on the West Kowloon cultural project ahead of the July 10 election, a community concern group urged Tuesday. Tsang, along with possible candidates Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat and controversial legislator Chim Pui-chung, have been invited by the People's Panel on West Kowloon for a June 12 forum.

``We solemnly urge the Acting Chief Executive to publicly explain his long-term cultural policies and visions on West Kowloon,'' said Ada Wong, core member of the People's Panel.

The group said it expects about 200 people at the forum, to be held at the Cattle Depot Artist Village. While Tsang has not replied to the invitation, sent on May 13, Lee has agreed to attend and Chim said he will be there if he secures 100 nominations from the Election Committee members.

The three will be expected to explain and exchange views on how they would deal with the West Kowloon project should they be elected.

``Tsang must fulfill his promise by facing the seven million Hong Kong people, instead of the mere 800 Election Committee members,'' said panel member Cyd Ho.

``We hope he will develop an organized and interactive dialogue, not PR tactics, with the people.''

Acting as commentators at the forum will be legislator Alan Leong and City University public and social administration Professor Anthony Cheung.

Separately, the People's Panel is continuing to lobby against the government's proposal for West Kowloon and will submit its own plan calling for a complete re-planning of the project.

Choosing one of the three shortlisted bidders should be abandoned, and the project should be developed with a civic cultural think-tank, the group says.

``The think-tank will be open to the whole community and will consider the fundamental questions that the government never answered, including why we must have four museums at the site,'' Wong said.

The proposal will go to the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau by the end of June.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 09:55 AM   #249
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South China Morning Post
April 6, 2005
The Future Of West Kowloon
Scale back arts hub plan, surveyors' institute suggests
Chloe Lai

The controversy over the West Kowloon Cultural District could be resolved by the government by scaling back the project and leaving part of the 40-hectare site for public land auction, the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors said.

The group said the government owed the public an explanation on why it had decided to give the cultural hub development to the private sector. But it disagreed with scrapping the project.

Institute president Cheung Tat-tong said it was preparing a number of alternative development models in an effort to resolve the controversy, which centres on the plan to award the project to a single developer.

The winner will be able to build residences, offices, hotels and shopping malls to subsidise arts and cultural facilities, and would then operate the area for 30 years.

One of the institute's proposed solutions is to scale back the 40-hectare project, then put the rest of the land up for public auction.

Mr Cheung said this would satisfy small developers who protest about being denied a role in the development.

He said the government should pick the good parts from the three short-listed proposals and come up with a preferred master plan under a "mix and match" model.

It should then tender the project on the basis of the preferred master plan. Only the three shortlisted developers would be invited to compete for the contract.

Under the public-private partnership (PPP) system, the government could have an architectural design competition for individual buildings and facilities - after the preferred master plan had been selected.

Mr Cheung said governments around the world used business case studies - or "private sector comparators" - to determine if a particular project should adopt a PPP approach. "The government has to explain why it is not following such a good practice," Mr Cheung said.

The administration has said it sees no need for such a study. In a document submitted to legislators two weeks ago, it said: "There is no need to construct a public sector comparator for the West Kowloon Cultural District, as the project is to be financially freestanding."

Despite its concerns, the institute is convinced the cultural hub project should go ahead. "The public doesn't want to see all the efforts being wasted, and wait for years to have the arts and cultural facilitates," Mr Cheung said.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 09:56 AM   #250
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South China Morning Post
April 6, 2005
Population cap mooted for cultural district
Quinton Chan

A limit on the number of people allowed to live in the West Kowloon Cultural District is being considered as part of a government plan to dampen public criticism of the project.

A government source said the idea was one of several being considered by officials in an effort to take the heat out of opposition to the plan.

"We want to demonstrate to the public that this is an arts and cultural project rather than a property development," the source said.

The project, on which the public is being consulted until June, has come under severe criticism from lawmakers and the arts community over its single -developer approach and its giant canopy - the centrepiece of Lord Foster's winning blueprint for the $ 24 billion arts hub.

Critics say the project could turn into just another property development, with the developer making a huge profit.

Whichever consortium wins the tender will operate the project - including museums, performance venues and flats - for 30 years.

Three short-listed consortiums are bidding for the project - the Cheung Kong -Sun Hung Kai Properties joint venture Dynamic Star International, Henderson Land's World City Cultural Park, and Sunny Development, a consortium led by Sino Land.

All have proposed a much higher population density for the 40-hectare site than the government's suggested plot ratio of 1.81.

"We only suggested a ratio of residential floor area to site area of 1.81 times. How about if we cap the plot ratio at that level?" the source said. "This could be feasible, as property prices are now rising." Such a move might counter the widely held impression that the project is a property development in disguise.

The source admitted the government could not at the moment resolve the biggest controversy - that of the single-developer approach.

The solution suggested by some critics - that the winning consortium be asked to partner with small developers - was not feasible.

"You know a forced marriage would not yield good results," the source said.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 09:59 AM   #251
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South China Morning Post
April 8, 2005
Democrats seek open debate on cultural hub
Chloe Lai

The Democratic Party yesterday asked the Town Planning Board to postpone its planned discussion today of the party's request for tighter planning control over the West Kowloon Cultural District. It now wants the discussion to be held in an open meeting.

Party vice-chairman Albert Ho Chun-yan said he had sent a letter to the board asking the members to use an administrative measure to open the meeting to the public.

"We don't want our request to be heard behind closed doors," Mr Ho said.

The Democrats applied to the board in January, asking it to rezone the 40 -hectare project as a comprehensive development area.

An amendment to the Town Planning Ordinance, which permits open meetings, had been passed but its effective date has not yet been decided.

"Although it has not yet taken effect, the board has the power to open the meeting," Mr Ho said.

He said the party had been told about the meeting only on Wednesday. "It is too rushed; we need more time to prepare our case ."

A spokeswoman for the board said they had received supplementary material from the party since its application.

She said members would discuss the application and the new material presented.

The site is now zoned for "other uses", which allows greater flexibility and more changes in planning without board approval.

The government wants to turn the site into a cultural hub, to be managed by a single consortium for 30 years.

Under the "other use" zoning, the board is not required to approve every change in design. If the Democrats' application is approved, any development on the site would be subject to approval by the board.

The government would also have to canvass public views, through public hearings conducted by the board.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 10:01 AM   #252
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South China Morning Post
April 9, 2005
Democrats fail to get arts hub site rezoned
Town planners reject three requests that would have tightened reins for project

Dennis Eng

An attempt by the Democrats to impose greater planning controls on the controversial West Kowloon Cultural District project has been struck down by the Town Planning Board.

The request was one of three seeking to rezone the site from the existing "Other Specified Uses" (OU), relating to "Arts, Cultural, Commercial and Entertainment Uses", to the more narrow definition of a "Comprehensive Development Area" (CDA). The board yesterday considered and rejected all three requests.

The board also said it sought an independent legal opinion from a London Queen's Counsel affirming that its two-stage planning approach was legally sound.

Under this approach, the development scheme chosen for the site needs to reflect an integrated arts hub before a provisional agreement is signed with the developer. Agreed development parameters, including plot ratio and gross floor area, are then included as amendments to the scheme.

"Members reaffirm that, given the unique nature and large scale of the development, a broad OU zone setting out an overall planning framework for various intended uses was considered sufficient in order to reflect the broad land uses and planning intention of the West Kowloon Cultural District," a board spokesman said.

"A CDA zoning, while providing maximum planning control, might not be appropriate given the need to allow flexibility in drawing up the development proposals before finalising the development parameters for the West Kowloon Cultural District," he said.

Democrat Albert Ho Chun-yan accused the board of being biased. "We may resubmit our rezoning request or possibly, initiate a judicial review," he said.

Mr Ho also did not rule out joining forces with those involved in the other two requests, including town planner Stanley Ng Wing-fai, who is also a Democratic Party member, and Tuen Mun district councillor Cheung Yuet-lan.

Under a CDA zoning, the developer must provide a master layout plan and any changes to the design would need board approval first. An OU zoning does not require this.

A Democrat bid to have the board consider its rezoning request in an open hearing was also turned down. The spokesman said the Town Planning (Amendment) Ordinance 2004 allowed for this but it had not yet become effective.

"The proponent's request would have implications on other rezoning requests submitted to the board," the spokesman said.

The government's public consultation for the project has been extended by three months until the end of June.
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Old February 5th, 2006, 11:25 PM   #253
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^ So that's good news, right?
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Old February 6th, 2006, 12:59 AM   #254
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South China Morning Post
April 12, 2005
'Unfeasible' canopy report sparks cultural hub row
Jimmy Cheung

A new row is brewing over the West Kowloon cultural hub project after a report saying the giant canopy concept insisted on by acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was considered unfeasible by a government-appointed expert panel four years ago.

The allegation has prompted the democrats to call for urgent discussions on Friday in an attempt to force the government to disclose relevant papers. The administration stressed yesterday the report would not be released.

The Hong Kong Economic Times yesterday reported that in 2001 a government -appointed panel of technical experts had reservations about the giant canopy designed by Lord Foster.

The confidential report said the panel, which studied the feasibility of the entries in an open competition that year, selected 21 designs but Lord Foster's was not among them.

But the grand jury in the competition selected his concept, which later won the contest. The technical report said the maintenance cost of the canopy was too expensive and it was viewed as an obstacle to breaking the project into smaller tenders.

Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing-tat asked why the government had insisted on the canopy concept if its feasibility had been questioned.

"I find it very absurd. Does that mean the government doesn't trust the views of the panel?" he asked at a special budget briefing by Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung.

Mr Suen said the panel only studied the technical aspects and its views only served as a reference point. He said judges of the competition considered a wide range of other factors when making their award, but he declined to disclose the panel documents.

Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Rita Lau Ng Wai-lan said the expert panel, which comprised representatives from different professions, was bound by rules of confidentiality.

Legco medical representative Kwok Ka-ki has written to the Legco House Committee to discuss invoking the council's special powers to obtain the documents.

The Democratic Party has written to the Legco subcommittee on the West Kowloon project asking for the matter to be followed up.

Mr Suen also told lawmakers yesterday the government would not build subsidised flats again even if property prices became too high for buyers.

"We don't anticipate that the government would have to tackle the problem of imbalance in the property market and have to build its own flats again. We will quickly address any problem at an early stage."

The administration stopped selling Home Ownership Scheme flats in 2002, and Mr Suen said there was no plan to sell the 10,000 unsold flats before 2006.

He also stressed that there would be sufficient land supply in the future. "There are already 37 plots of land available this year. If necessary, we could supply more."
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Old February 6th, 2006, 01:03 AM   #255
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South China Morning Post
April 13, 2005
Cultural group mounts legal challenge to bids screening
Jonathan Li

A tiny cultural group yesterday launched a legal challenge to the huge West Kowloon Cultural District project.

It is seeking leave for a judicial review of the membership of a committee screening bids for the hub.

The Association of Chinese Authors and Publishers in Hong Kong and Macau is challenging a government decision not to include the Arts Development Council in the Proposals Evaluation Committee.

The association is citing the council as a co-defendant because it declined to join the application for a judicial review. It told the Court of First Instance that excluding the council from screening bids for the cultural district was a breach of the government's responsibilities under the Basic Law and the Arts Development Council Ordinance.

It says the council should have been included to fulfil its legally mandated function in advising the government on arts and cultural issues.

Mr Justice Michael Hartmann did not rule on the application yesterday because of unanswered questions about the legal basis of the committee.

He adjourned the case until next Wednesday, saying he would invite the secretary of justice to send a representative to the next hearing to help him on legal issues about the committee.

In its application, the association said the government-appointed committee - all of whom were civil servants - would have the ultimate responsibility of selecting the property developer for the cultural district project.

It argued that the government's decision not to include the arts body on the committee was one that no reasonable authority could have arrived at and as such deserved the interference of the court.

Mr Justice Hartmann wondered if the committee's functions were confined to assessing the project's engineering and cost feasibility.

Siu See-kong, appearing for the association, said that as the government had kept everything behind closed doors, he was not able to shed any further light on the matter.

Mr Siu, an in-house counsel for a private company, said outside court that the association, with just six members, was formed five years ago. He said the group had received legal advice from a barrister.
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Old February 8th, 2006, 08:12 PM   #256
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West Kowloon Cultural District Research
http://ccpr.hku.hk/

The Centre for Cultural Policy Research of the University of Hong Kong is undertaking a study on the West Kowloon Cultural District Development. This study includes two parts: (1) a survey of opinions and attitudes of key stakeholders in the project including legislative and district board councilors, developers, professionals and the media; (2) an academic study to assess the financial performance of the proposed development: based on conditions set by the invitation For Proposal(IFP) by the Government. The first part of the project is funded through private donations and is overseen by a steering committee formed by Dr WK Chan of the HK General Chambers of Commerce, Mr Danny Yung, Programme Director of the HK Institute of Contemporary Culture and Dr Desmond Hui, Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Research of HKU. The second part of the project is supported by the HK Arts Development Council under the joint investigation of Dr KC Wong and Dr Desmond Hui of the Faculty of Architecture of HKU.

The Centre for Cultural Policy Research of the University of Hong Kong conducts all studies related to culture and policies in Hong Kong for the benefits and interests of the public. Recent studies carried out by the Centre include Baseline Study on Hong Kong's Creative Industries (2003) for the Central Policy Unit of the HKSAR Government and Public Art Research (2003) for the Arts Development Council, both available online through the relevant funding bodies and the Centre's websites. The Centre is now involved in a UNESCO study to help develop a data collection model for cultural industries to be used by all Asian and Pacific countries.

The funding for the Centre is independent from the University and the Research Grant Council's funding and relies on commissions and external support to carry out these studies. If you think our work is worthy of support, please contribute your donations to our Centre's address: P306, Graduate House, HKU, 3 University Drive, HK and make cheques payable to "The University of Hong Kong". You may specify your support either for general purpose or in the following projects:

- UNESCO study on cultural industries
- West Kowloon Cultural District
- Public Art Research
- Cultural Planning and Urban Regeneration
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Last edited by hkskyline; February 8th, 2006 at 08:40 PM.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 12:13 AM   #257
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South China Morning Post
April 13, 2005
Choice of canopy design defended
Chloe Lai

Two judges on a jury which picked Lord Foster's design for the West Kowloon Cultural District said yesterday a technical report criticising the giant canopy was unimportant to the selection process.

Lawmaker and retired architecture professor Patrick Lau Sau-shing and Executive Councillor Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee said they had voted for the Foster design.

Mrs Chow said the jury had studied all the entries and had made a rational decision. Professor Lau said the technical report was not included in the marking scheme. "The technical team was to provide advice when the grand jury had queries. ... The power of selecting the best design rested with the jury, not with the technical team. We did not ask the technical team to give us any advice on Lord Foster's design."

Professor Lau is confident the canopy can be built. "The problem is how much it will cost, but it is not the jury's job to cap the cost."

A new row has erupted over the controversial cultural hub after a report said the giant canopy had been considered unfeasible by a government-appointed expert panel four years ago.
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Old February 10th, 2006, 12:14 AM   #258
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South China Morning Post
April 14, 2005
Group seeks Cantonese opera house
Vivienne Chow

A theatre dedicated to Cantonese opera should be built at the West Kowloon cultural hub, a concern group says.

Stephen Chow Chun-kay, chairman of the Cantonese Opera Advisory Committee, criticised the West Kowloon contenders for not paying enough attention to the traditional local art form.

Dr Chow said that on top of the three theatres in the complex as required by the government, there should also be a 1,200-seat theatre just for Cantonese opera performances. He said at yesterday's meeting with representatives of the three West Kowloon Cultural District contenders that each developer had acknowledged the importance of having a Chinese opera centre.

He added that there was huge demand for Cantonese opera.

"Each year, over 300,000 people attend the more than 1,000 Cantonese opera performances," he said.

"But after the Sunbeam Theatre in North Point is pulled down by the end of August, there will be 300 shows less each year. At present, we have to compete with other art groups for venues."
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Old February 11th, 2006, 04:17 AM   #259
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South China Morning Post
April 16, 2005
Canopy papers to be released next week
Ambrose Leung

The government has agreed to release part of the confidential information related to the approval of renowned architect Lord Foster's giant canopy for the controversial West Kowloon Cultural District.

Lawmakers reacted cautiously to the promise, made before yesterday's Legco House Committee's discussion on whether to invoke the legislature's special powers to procure the documents.

Speaking in the committee meeting yesterday, legislator Kwok Ka-ki said he had been contacted by Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands Michael Suen Ming-yeung, who promised to provide the papers as soon as Tuesday.

The legislator had wanted to see all the documents surrounding the selection of the design after it was revealed a government-appointed technical panel warned that the key feature of the plan - a giant canopy that would be the world's largest roof - was problematic.

In a report in 2001, the panel of technical experts expressed reservations about the canopy, saying maintenance would be too expensive and its construction would present an obstacle to breaking the project into smaller tenders.

The confidential report said the panel - which studied the feasibility of the entries in the competition for the design concept - short-listed 21 designs, but Lord Foster's was not among them.

Dr Kwok quoted Mr Suen as saying the part of the report concerning Lord Foster's design would be revealed but the rest of the 160-plus entries must be kept confidential.

The House Committee decided to postpone the vote on whether to exercise the special powers until a sub-committee studied the government information next week.
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Old February 11th, 2006, 04:19 AM   #260
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South China Morning Post
April 17, 2005
James Tien challenges Tsang on cultural hub
Klaudia Lee

The Liberal Party leader yesterday challenged acting Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen to express his views on the West Kowloon cultural hub and other key issues.

James Tien Pei-chun, who last week ruled himself out of the chief executive race said: "Mr Tsang has never expressed his stance on important policy issues, such as the single-developer approach in the West Kowloon project."

Speaking on an RTHK programme, Mr Tien also maintained his earlier criticism of Mr Tsang's role in overseeing the development of the site.

In December, he launched a rare attack on Mr Tsang, saying he could be sticking to the single-developer option for the project in exchange for tycoons' support in a possible bid for chief executive. Mr Tsang, who is considered a frontrunner for the job, has yet to declare he will run.

When asked whether he stood by his earlier comment, Mr Tien said: "I don't think my view has changed."

But he added: "The main issue now is that a few months ago, the single -developer approach was Mr Tung Chee-hwa's business, but now it is different ... he Mr Tsang has never told citizens of his views on important policy issues."

He said irrespective of whether Mr Tsang would win uncontested, he should outline his policy platforms.

Mr Tien had appeared to be the only serious challenger to Mr Tsang.

But he ruled himself out of the race on Wednesday after the results of an internal opinion poll showed Mr Tsang was 10 times more popular than he was and mainland officials told him that the chief secretary would be "good" for the post.

Mr Tien also said he hoped that more candidates would come forward to stand for the top post.

He said he needed to discuss with fellow party members whether or not they would consider supporting the nomination of Democratic Party chairman Lee Wing -tat, who is understood not to have enough backing to nominate to run in the July 10 poll.
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