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Old June 21st, 2005, 08:53 AM   #41
hkskyline
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New cultural mecca or another Harbour Fest?
12 November 2003
South China Morning Post

The Harbour Fest was supposed to be a major image-booster for Hong Kong after the Sars crisis. Yet it turned out to be a chaotic project, which could cost taxpayers $100 million, and has eroded public confidence and tarnished the city's image.

On the face of it, the organiser's lack of experience, the short time frame in which to set up the concerts, and the volatile nature of the stars are to blame. Beneath these, lie more fundamental and bizarre defects.

A quick-fix mentality seems to have prevailed within the government. Despite the soaring fiscal deficit, government ministers, including former financial secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung, seemed only too happy to spend lavishly on post-Sars publicity, including the Harbour Fest, to the order of $1 billion.

All the normal rules regarding government contracting out and assignment of rights to government activities were bent when the American Chamber of Commerce was given the exclusive rights to organise the Fest through a private firm set up by its chairman and his wife. This was despite their lack of expertise or experience in show business. Even the public relations firm hired to help was only set up solely to accept contracting by Amcham.

No senior officials raised any questions about such irregularities. The project was treated as an entirely "private" business, even though it was predominantly underwritten by government funds. With InvestHK chief Mike Rowse, and the new Financial Secretary, Henry Tang Ying-yen, repeatedly getting the details of the project wrong, and some of the crucial facts only being exposed under media pressure, one wonders if the government takes seriously responsibility for public expenditure.

All the virtues of public-private partnership, favoured by most governments, cannot be used to justify such a blatant absence of accountability. As this saga ends, public suspicion is growing over another, much larger project. Architect's groups, cultural and planning organisations, and some developers, have criticised the government for its intention to award the West Kowloon cultural district project to one developer - even though it will be open to tenders from everyone. By taking this approach, instead of inviting multiple developers to participate in contracts for different parts, the government stands accused of favouring the city's biggest developers.

On the surface, the single-developer approach cuts the government's chores. Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa promised in his 1999 policy address that a major performance venue would be developed on the West Kowloon reclamation site, with world-class facilities to make Hong Kong the events capital of Asia. In these times of fiscal restraint, however, the government prefers a quick-fix solution of contracting out the whole project to a major developer that will finance the construction and operation of the cultural parts of the development by income generated from the profit-making commercial components.

The same mentality was behind the Cyberport project, awarded by private treaty in 1998. Acclaimed as Hong Kong's version of Silicon Valley, it has turned out to be essentially just another property development. The government has to learn from the Harbour Fest's problems of a lack of transparency, accountability and community ownership.

Many in the cultural and performing arts community wonder why the government can be so sure that developers in Hong Kong know enough about the arts not to sacrifice design and quality for business interests and profit. Harbour Fest is seen as a bad example of public-private partnership, leaving many to dread the prospect of having Hong Kong's future cultural landmark put in the hands of an inexperienced private-sector partner.

It is not as if the government has been great on design - the cultural centre and the central library have both been criticised. But if Hong Kong is to have its own Guggenheim or something comparable to Singapore's Esplanade, the government should not discard its important steering role. The public's role has to be expanded, not contracted.

The use of commercial development profits to finance the cultural site, as a self-funding deal to secure completion within a short timeframe - without getting bogged down by red tape - is attractive. But by over-emphasising the developer's role, the government has put the project into the classic mode that most developers in Hong Kong are most familiar with.

There are alternatives. The cultural and commercial parts of the West Kowloon project can be separated. Hong Kong can follow Singapore in setting up an institution of a public character, which can receive tax-deductable donations. Or it can adapt its home-grown corporate model used to construct and operate the airport on principles of financial prudence.

A cultural corporation or consortium on the public-private partnership basis can be established - with government contributing the land premium and some development rights, and private investors contributing the development monies - but also incorporating local planners and cultural groups. This corporation can take full responsibility for planning the project, calling in worldwide bids for its various parts to ensure fair competition - and getting the best. The corporation should continue to manage the facilities, through a professional management arm.Anthony Cheung Bing-leung is a professor of public administration at City University of Hong Kong and chairman of SynergyNet, a policy think-tank.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 08:55 AM   #42
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Fostering a culture of transparency
12 November 2003
South China Morning Post

The development of a landmark cultural hub on the prime harbour-side site in West Kowloon is one that, it might be thought, would require the highest levels of public scrutiny.

We need only consider the vast scale of the project and its importance to our city to appreciate the public interest involved. This is the last large piece of land by the harbour to be developed. The aim is to turn it into a magnificent cultural icon. And it is all to be made the responsibility of a single developer.

So the government's decision to restrict the ability of the Town Planning Board to intervene is a matter of concern. The government achieved its aim through a remarkably simple device. The whole 40-hectare site has been zoned under the catch-all category "other specified uses". This was apparently proposed by the board. But most of the many different types of work to be carried out have then been listed in a column that exempts them from the board's scrutiny. These include residential blocks, hotels, commercial complexes and museums. The effect will be to give the developer who ultimately wins the tender virtually a free hand in deciding which bits to put where.

The board is to consider objections to these arrangements from five developers, and it will then vote on a final plan. If this is approved, that will be the end of the board's involvement. Changes could later be made without it being involved.

The developer, it seems, will be spared the bother of many troublesome and time-consuming applications. This manoeuvre will, no doubt, make the project all the more attractive to the developers who intend to bid for it, speeding up the construction process and giving the winner the greatest flexibility in deciding how to go about it.

Regrettably, it will also make entire process less transparent and remove some of the usual avenues for public participation and scrutiny. It creates the impression that the government might be lining up a sweetheart deal with a favoured developer.

The decision to give the project to a single consortium was itself controversial. And the requirements bidders must meet are so strict they effectively exclude all but the biggest companies. Letting the successful developer largely avoid board scrutiny fits the pattern. It is all beginning to threaten the project's credibility.

The board has been much maligned of late, mainly because of its approval of controversial reclamation projects. This statutory body is perceived to be sympathetic to the government's wishes, which is not surprising given that its chairman and vice-chairman are both officials. The procedures it uses are outdated and in need of reform to make it less secretive - and more accountable to the public.

However, the board does perform an important public function in scrutinising development proposals and exercising a measure of control over town planning. Some of our biggest companies have, in recent times, seen their plans rejected by the board. As well as officials, its members include academics, business people and environmentalists. It should have a key role to play in monitoring the plans for West Kowloon.

Even the Cyberport contract, which was awarded without going through the usual tendering procedures, was largely subjected to the board's scrutiny.

Giving the private sector full responsibility for the West Kowloon project is an ambitious and admirable attempt to save public money. But giving it to a single developer means that company will enjoy a great deal of power. The tendering process must be fair and transparent - and there should be no preferential treatment for the successful company.

This is a project in which the Town Planning Board must be fully engaged.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 08:58 AM   #43
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Old June 21st, 2005, 10:12 AM   #44
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Tsang hits out in row over arts hub plan
Chloe Lai and Ernest Kong
13 November 2003
South China Morning Post

The chief secretary yesterday added to the controversy over the West Kowloon cultural district by alleging that some property developers had resorted to lies in their efforts to kill the $24 billion project. A lawmaker accused Donald Tsang Yam-kuen of smearing developers.

Mr Tsang made his comment during questions in the Legislative Council about the planned arts hub and the proposal to award a 30-year tender for it to a single developer.

He said: "Since the beginning of the project, many people have wanted us to give up the plan. Many corporations and developers give the government enormous pressure, they use their financial power to press the government, some tease us and some even lie to switch the focus (of discussions)."

Non-affiliated lawmaker Abraham Razack, who represents property developers, criticised the chief secretary for smearing developers. "If he has an allegation, he should (say) who lied so people can defend themselves. It is very unfair," he said, adding: "The Real Estate Developers Association cannot agree to the government's arrangement."

Mr Tsang announced in September that the 40-hectare project would be granted to a single consortium to build and operate. Small developers said that would exclude them from bidding, while academics, architects and planners said it would turn West Kowloon into a "developers' colony".

Mr Tsang said the government would call off the tendering process if no developer came up with a satisfactory proposal.

He also said the cultural sector had been consulted. But Mr Razack retorted: "You said you're listening, but you neither accept the views of the cultural sector nor those of the developers. You only insist on your own plan."
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Old June 21st, 2005, 10:15 AM   #45
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Public is being misled on cultural hub, tycoon says West Kowloon scheme is fundamentally wrong
Chloe Lai
14 November 2003
South China Morning Post

Public is being misled on cultural hub, tycoon says West Kowloon scheme is fundamentally wrong, says Hang Lung chairman.

A property tycoon says the government is using "cheap methods to mislead the public" after the chief secretary claimed developers were resorting to lies to kill the $24 billion West Kowloon cultural project.

Hang Lung Group chairman Ronnie Chan Chi-chung also criticised the government for trying to "frame" people and distorting the facts about the massive development.

Describing the cultural project as "fundamentally wrong", Mr Chan said the city's most important arts and cultural facilities should not be operated by a property developer.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen made the allegation in the Legislative Council on Wednesday as he discussed the proposal to award the 40-hectare project to a single developer for 30 years.

Mr Chan said this proposal was not reasonable.

"The whole thing is a matter of principle. This tender would have a structural problem. I have never in my life seen a tender as open-ended as this one," he said.

"On one hand, it's very loose - nothing (about the development details) has been decided and (the developer) can negotiate everything with the government. I really can't see how the selection could be fair.

"But on the other hand, it is very restrictive and unreasonable (with its one-developer limit). Only four or five developers, including us, have the ability.

"It is also very irresponsible of the government to mislead the public. It says you can form joint ventures to bid for the project (while) actually making the joint venture impossible.

"They talked about developers ignoring public interest. But who is the public? The arts and cultural groups do not agree with the government, the professionals oppose the plan and developers also don't like it."

Mr Tsang told Legco on Wednesday that big businesses and developers were putting pressure on the government to give up the plan, and some had resorted to telling lies about the project.

He also said it would be risky if the government broke the massive project into several pieces, insisting the only feasible option was for the tender to be granted to a single developer.

Small and medium-seized property developers are outraged that the project will go to one developer and that the only way they can take part in the development is to form a joint venture.

They are also upset with the so-called "joint and several guarantee" under which every partner in a joint venture would be held equally liable regardless of the size of their individual investments.

Bidders are required to have developed at least one project involving more than $3 billion in construction costs over the past 15 years. But the developers pointed out that the construction costs of a project as large as the first phase of the Convention and Exhibition Centre was only $2.7 billion.

Mr Chan stressed that developers could not agree with the government's tendering process.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 10:17 AM   #46
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Kowloon project's financing under fire
Quinton Chan and Chloe Lai
17 November 2003
South China Morning Post

The government's 'barter arrangement' for building the planned cultural district may breach accounting rules, say critics The government is bypassing normal funding arrangements for building the West Kowloon cultural hub and may be breaching its own accounting rules, critics warn.

Legislators and the head of the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) say the controversial plan does not follow the normal funding arrangements for capital works projects. They say approval for the $24 billion scheme should be obtained from the Legislative Council's finance committee.

A government spokeswoman said the West Kowloon project was not public works, but "facilities to be used by the public". Therefore, Legco approval was not needed.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen announced in September that the 40-hectare site would be given to a single consortium to operate for 30 years. The winning bidder would use income from property sales to fund the construction of cultural facilities, such as theatres, museums and libraries.

The plan has been opposed by some small property developers who would be excluded from taking part in the development.

Zoning plans for the site, which would take the project beyond the scrutiny of the Town Planning Board, have also been criticised. And non-government organisations, lawmakers and cultural groups have voiced fears that the site could be turned into a "developer's colony".

Now, it appears the arrangements may also breach a government accounting principle known as "hypothecation of revenue".

Under the principle, derived from section four of the Public Finance Ordinance, all government revenue should be credited into the Treasury before it is used and all expenditure should come from the Treasury accounts.

Critics say the West Kowloon case does not follow these rules because the value of the land is being redirected to the developer to cover the project's costs without going through the Treasury accounts.

While the ordinance applies to all public works, it also stipulates that the financial secretary can decide what constitutes public works.

ACCA president Leo Lee Chi-ming said the government should first sell the land in West Kowloon and then use the money to fund construction of the cultural district.

"The government has made the project a barter deal and it is problematic," Mr Lee said. "It should separate the project's accounts on income and expenditure. For a project of such scale, the government should also seek approval from the Legislative Council."

The chief secretary said in Legco on Wednesday that if the West Kowloon site were put up for auction, the revenue raised might not be able to fund the cultural district because of the budget deficit.

A senior government official, who would not be named, also said the present plan may have breached the accounting principle.

"The present arrangements have deprived the Legislative Council's right to scrutinise the project. If this is the case, then many other government projects could also bypass Legco."

Democratic Party chairman Yeung Sum said the government must suspend the plan and conduct a genuine public consultation.

"This project involves no government expenditure and there will not be any legislation. The rules of the game are designed to bypass Legco and leave us unable to have any checks and balances."

The government was criticised by the director of audit in 1996 for violating the principle in a deal with Cathay Pacific for the construction of VIP lounges at the former Kai Tak airport. Cathay built the lounges and was given free use of them for a period to offset the cost.

But the government, in a reply to the auditor's report, said the financial rules should be flexible.

A Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau spokeswoman said last night that the West Kowloon project and the VIP lounge issue should not be compared as they were different. She also said a similar concept had been adopted in two public-private partnership leisure projects in Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 04:14 PM   #47
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please built that!!! its amaizing!!!
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Old June 21st, 2005, 04:44 PM   #48
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so nothing from this project!!!
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Old June 21st, 2005, 06:48 PM   #49
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LCQ4: West Kowloon Cultural District
Wednesday, November 19, 2003
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Albert Ho and a reply by the Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands, Mr Michael Suen, in the Legislative Council today (November 19):

Question:

It has been reported that, to tie in with the development of the West Kowloon Cultural District, the Town Planning Board announced amendments to the draft South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan ("OZP"), under which a whole lot of some 40 hectares of land will be rezoned at one go from the previous "Specific Uses" to "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Arts, Cultural, Commercial and Entertainment Uses" without restrictions on height and floor development. According to the Invitation for Proposals for the development of the Cultural District, the authorities have decided that a number of core cultural facilities will be built there. They include a theatre complex, a performance venue, a museum cluster, an art exhibition centre, a water amphitheatre and at least four piazza areas. The purposes and sizes of these facilities have already been listed in detail. The authorities expect that the facilities will start operation by phases from 2010 onwards. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the total number of submissions received since the announcement of amendments to the OZP and the number of those objecting to the rezoning; the sectors to which the opponents belong and their grounds of objection;

(b) of the criteria for determining to rezone the whole lot of the above land to "Other Specified Uses", and whether the authorities have ensured adequate planning control over the land; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities will rezone the land to "Comprehensive Development Area" in order to regulate its development parameters and density; if so, of the progress; if not, the reasons for that; and

(c) of the measures in place to avoid these core cultural facilities being considered unsuitable or outdated after having come into operation, or not being welcomed by the public and local cultural organizations?

Reply:

Madam President,

As the Chief Secretary for Administration explained in his reply to Mr James Tien's question in this Council last Wednesday, the Government wishes to see the West Kowloon Cultural District developed into a world class integrated arts, cultural and entertainment area so as to enrich the cultural lives of our people and offer tourists a chance to sample the blend of Chinese and Western cultures here. Experience tell us that to break away from the conventional practice of having arts and cultural facilities operated and managed by the Government, we must draw on the commercial know-how of the private sector as well as the expertise in the cultural sector in developing the project. Also, our fiscal deficit makes it impossible for us to allocate huge funds for building new major arts and cultural facilities. It is encouraging that we have received eleven indications of interest in submitting development proposals.

The project is first and foremost a world class arts and cultural development. It will only be allowed to proceed if the proposal concerned meets our requirements and expectations in this respect. We will, however, allow an appropriate amount of commercial development to attract the private sector and approach the project as a single package to achieve a properly integrated development. In looking to obtain the most feasible and viable proposal, we have only specified in the invitation document our minimum requirements, and provided a baseline development scheme for reference. This would allow proponents as much flexibility as possible for innovative development planning. Yet, the canopy covering most of the site imposes certain limitations, whatever development is proposed. Taking all these factors into consideration, the Town Planning Board has decided to have the site zoned for "Other Specified Uses", namely, arts, cultural, commercial and entertainment uses.

Turning to the three parts of Mr Ho's question:

(a) The Town Planning Board has received 11 objections to the amended draft South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan (OZP). The objectors include local individuals, property developers or consultants acting on their behalf, public transport body and concern groups. They all object to the "Other Specified Uses" annotated "Arts, Cultural, Commercial and Entertainment Uses" zoning in the OZP. The objectors are mainly concerned about the lack of development controls regarding building height, development intensity and possible visual impacts and whether the "Other Specified Uses" zoning is appropriate. Other concerns include the possible adverse traffic, environmental and noise impacts that may arise from the development of the arts and cultural district.

(b) As I explained in my introductory remarks, the "Other Specified Uses" zoning is to reflect the intention of planning and developing the site in an integrated manner. I stress however that such zoning does not mean that there will be little or no planning control on what can be built on the land. Quite the contrary, in fact. When the Town Planning Board decided to zone the site for "Other Specified Uses", the Government agreed to submit the preferred development proposal to Town Planning Board members for consideration and consultation before the proposal is submitted to the Chief Executive in Council for approval to enter into the Provisional Agreement. Also, once the Chief Executive in Council has approved a development scheme for the site, the maximum permitted gross floor area and the plot ratio decided upon will be stipulated in the Provisional Agreement to be signed between the Government and the successful proponent. These parameters will then be carried forward into the Project Agreement and the land grant, which is legally binding. We will also provide in the Provisional Agreement and Project Agreement for these parameters to be included in the statutory OZP to specify the development mix and density, including gross floor area, plot ratio and height limit. If the proponent wants to amend any of these aspects of the development plan, all the statutory town planning procedures for approval by the Town Planning Board will have to be followed. Therefore, we do not intend to zone this as a "Comprehensive Development Area".

(c) Under the Invitation For Proposals, proponents are required to propose, in relation to the core arts and cultural facilities, modes of governance and operation which, among other things, will enhance the long term cultural development of Hong Kong, attract public support, provide assurance that the facilities will be run in a financially responsible and publicly accountable manner and involve participation by persons of standing in the community and experts in the relevant fields. These requirements will enable both the Government and members of the arts and cultural community to play roles in providing input to and monitoring the governance and operation of the core arts and cultural facilities, thereby ensuring that standards of operation are maintained to the satisfaction of the community.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 06:50 PM   #50
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Town Planning Board maintains West Kowloon Cultural District zoning
Friday, December 12, 2003
Government Press Release

The Town Planning Board today (December 12) considered the objections to the amendments of the draft South West Kowloon Outline Zoning Plan in relation to the West Kowloon Cultural District and decided to uphold the amendments.

The Town Planning Board has received 11 objections since the area earmarked for the cultural district was rezoned to 'Other Specified Uses' ('OU') annotated 'Arts, Cultural, Commercial and Entertainment Uses' on July 11, 2003.

Ten of the objections relate to the planning and development issues of the cultural district project. The main concerns of the objectors are on the appropriateness of the 'OU' zoning; the planning control for the district; the role of the Board in the development process of the project; and the impacts on nearby developments.

After careful consideration of the objections, the Board decided that there was no need to propose any amendment to the Plan as the concerns of the objectors had been addressed.

"Members are of the view that as the planning intention is to facilitate the development of the site into an integrated arts and cultural district together with other commercial and supporting facilities, the rezoning of the district to 'OU' annotated 'Arts, Cultural, Commercial and Entertainment Uses' is appropriate," a spokesman for the Town Planning Board said.

Given the scale, nature and development time span of the area, the OU zoning is needed to allow a greater degree of design flexibility for the proponents to come up with the best proposal. Such zoning has been adopted before as in the case of the development of the new airport at Chek Lap Kok, the industrial estates and the container terminal, he said.

The Board was satisfied that since the majority development in the district would be covered by the distinctive canopy, thereby limiting the building height, development intensity and overall built-form of the district would be under effective control. In addition, the same amount of open space originally proposed in the previous version of the Plan will be provided in the development of the cultural district.

As far as impacts on surrounding developments are concerned, the Board was satisfied that the project proponent is required to carry out detailed technical assessments to ensure that the project will be sustainable in traffic, environmental and infrastructure terms.

In deciding on the 'OU' zoning, the Board had the clear commitment from the Government that the Board would be consulted at various stages of the selection of a preferred development scheme. The Board also noted that the Government had repeatedly re-affirmed such an undertaking at Legislative Council (Legco) meetings and in public recently.

The Board noted that members of the public could give their views as Legco would be consulted on the preferred development scheme, before its final approval by the Chief Executive in Council. To enhance consensus building within the community, the Board urged the Government to consult the public at every key stage of the selection process. This would in effect allow maximum public scrutiny of the process before the Agreement for the project was finalised.

"The Board wishes to adopt a two-stage approach for the planning of the cultural district. The first stage is to clearly reflect the planning intention of developing the site into an integrated arts and cultural district, and in this regard, the Board agreed that the 'OU' zoning would be sufficient for the purpose.

"Once the preferred development scheme is agreed upon, it is the intention of the Board to incorporate the development parameters of the agreed scheme, such as the total gross floor area (GFA), the plot ratio and maximum building height, etc, into the Plan for public inspection and comment. In doing so, any subsequent changes to the stipulated development parameters will require the approval of the Board," the spokesman explained.

The spokesman added that the Board agreed to explain clearly the two-stage approach in the Explanatory Statement of the Plan.
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Old June 21st, 2005, 08:56 PM   #51
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sheme for hong kong!!!
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Old June 21st, 2005, 09:29 PM   #52
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Hey hk, how much longer is this financial bickering going to last?

They need to bring in the backhoe and get moving on this... it's too deliciously awesome not to build!!!

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Old June 22nd, 2005, 03:05 AM   #53
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The project will get built, but the government needs to figure out how to build it, and reach a consensus with the people on that plan. This is not going to be a rushed project, but I expect shovels to be in the ground in a few years.

Planners gain veto at cultural district
Michael Ng
3 January 2004
Hong Kong Standard

The Town Planning Board has the power to veto any draft or plan submitted by either the government or land developers for the HK$24 billion West Kowloon cultural district, according to the board's vice-chairman, Bosco Fung.

Speaking after a board meeting yesterday, Fung said the government had promised to seek the board's approval for every plan before work went ahead. He also said the two-stage plan-making approach adopted by the board would give the public the opportunity to scrutinise each and every development proposal.

"If we are not fully satisfied, we can reject any plan and ask the government to make the necessary amendments before re-submitting it to the board," Fung said.

Explaining his two-stage approach, Fung said the government would first submit its preferred development scheme and preliminary masterplan to the board for consideration.

The preliminary masterplan would then be submitted to the Executive Council for approval and a provisional agreement entered into with the developer.

In the second phase, the board would scrutinise details of each plan and decide whether such parameters as plot ratios, density and building heights were acceptable or needed to be amended.

The approved, or amended, plan would then be published for public inspection and comment.

Should there be no public objections to the approved plan, it would be resubmitted to the Executive Council for endorsement.

Fung felt the entire process could be completed within 18 months of the June 19 closing date for tenders.

Veteran board member Chan Pun-chung said the new procedure would result in a better balance between the wishes of the government, land developers and the general public.

He said that as the board was not involved in the tender selection process it could do its work properly and would not be accused of showing favour to anyone.

Associate professor at the Hong Kong University department of architecture Wong Wah-sang said the board's decision was "better than doing nothing".

But, he said, it would be better if a group of individuals were commissioned to assist the board and to examine the opinions raised by the government and developers.

He was also worried as to whether the board could work totally free of government influence.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 03:09 AM   #54
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Arts groups divided over West Kowloon project
Cheung Chi-fai
13 March 2004
South China Morning Post

Arts groups are split over the government's proposal to allow a single developer to build and operate the $24 billion West Kowloon cultural district.

The Arts Development Council asked 3,000 schools, cultural and arts groups for their views on the project.

Of the 403 which responded, a third supported the single-developer approach, a third were against it and the others had no opinion. Previously, arts groups and construction and design professionals had criticised the idea of a single developer.

Some 60 per cent of the respondents agreed that private developers should play a key role in the project and did not object to commercial activities featuring in the development alongside cultural and artistic ventures.

About two-thirds wanted the arts community to have a say on the proposals of developers bidding for the project, although some respondents voiced concern that could create conflicts of interest.

Sixty per cent agreed the development should be managed either by a statutory body, non-profit companies or on a commercial basis.

If a statutory body were to be chosen, its board should comprise representatives of the government, the arts sector and the successful bidder, they said.

The council will submit its findings to the government.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 06:27 AM   #55
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Ideas for West Kowloon project to be put to public
They will be asked to comment on plans for realising the cultural hub next year
Jimmy Cheung
20 March 2004
South China Morning Post

Development proposals for the West Kowloon Cultural District will be put on show by the government early next year for public consultation.

The exercise would foster a greater sense of "public ownership" of the project, Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said yesterday.

With criticism of the project growing, the government has pushed back to June 19 its deadline for submission of development proposals.

"We agree that without undermining the integrity of the assessment exercise, there is scope for involving the public further so that their views can also be taken into account in the selection [of a development plan]," Mr Tsang said.

The government plans to hold public forums on the proposals during the exhibition period. It says the views it collects will help in making the final selection.

Under the plan, one developer will be given exclusive rights to transform the 40-hectare waterfront area into an arts and cultural zone packed with museums, theatres and residential blocks. Construction is to be completed in stages from 2010.

Critics fear that only a few developers will be qualified to undertake such a large-scale project and the government and legislature will not have any checks on the development.

Mr Tsang said there were strong views that the government should involve the public more, and all proposals that satisfied the development criteria would be put out for public consultation.

"Instead of being presented with a [pre-selected] proposal, the public should be given the opportunity to view the various proposals received, so that they can offer their comments," Mr Tsang said.

"The public consultation will help ensure that the proposal eventually selected will be better received by the public and [will] have greater public ownership."

Independent legislator Lau Ping-cheung, who represents the architectural, surveying and planning sector, said problems still remained with the handling of the project.

"Although involving the public more would help reduce disputes, I think there are still fundamental problems like the single-tender arrangement. Smaller firms would not be able to compete in the tender," he said.

He also said public consultation would not help reduce conflicts among property developers.

In the exhibition, technical aspects of the proposals and the operation, maintenance and management of arts and cultural facilities will be displayed. But officials say the public can expect little information on the financial aspects of the proposals as they involve commercially sensitive information.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:05 PM   #56
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Consultation will delay cultural hub
Chloe Lai
23 March 2004
South China Morning Post

Completion of the West Kowloon cultural district will be delayed for a year by the government's decision to display all the development proposals for public consultation.

Work on the controversial cultural district will now begin around April 2007, according to a government document submitted to the Legislative Council's planning, lands and works panel.

The government had intended construction to start in April 2006 when it announced the project in September.

Because of the delay, the core cultural facilities, such as theatres and museums, will be completed in stages from early 2011.

Chief Secretary Donald Tsang Yam-kuen said on Friday that the government wanted to foster a greater sense of public ownership of the project.

The development proposals for the West Kowloon cultural district would be put on show early next year for public consultation, he said.

The government also plans to hold public forums on the proposals during the exhibition period. It says the views it collects will help in selecting the final plan.

The Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau expects that involving the public in selecting the appropriate development proposal will be a difficult task. It will also inevitably prolong the time needed for the project.

With criticism of the project growing, the government has had to extend the deadline for submissions of development proposals by three months, from this month to June 19.

The bureau said private developers may lobby for public support for their plans, which would produce intense debate in the community.
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Old June 22nd, 2005, 09:08 PM   #57
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HK PRESS: Cheung Kong, SHKP Eye Joint Bid For Arts Project
30 March 2004

HONG KONG (Dow Jones)--Two of Hong Kong's largest developers, Cheung Kong (Holdings) Ltd. (0001.HK) and Sun Hung Kai Properties Ltd. (0016.HK), are in talks to jointly bid for the government's HK$24 billion arts-to-property project, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The government has earmarked a 40-hectare harbor-front site in Kowloon for an international arts and cultural center, though the winning bidder will be allowed to turn 70% of the total 7.3 million square feet in gross floor area into residential and commercial units to finance the project.

The deadline for bids for the West Kowloon Cultural District development is June 19. The government last year said 12 developers had expressed an interest.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 04:35 AM   #58
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Public-private plan will be extended
Controversial scheme to be used to finance cultural centre
Chloe Lai
12 April 2004
South China Morning Post

The government is set to expand its controversial plan to adopt the public-private partnership model in public works projects.

The Home Affairs Bureau said it would use the new approach for the development of a cultural complex in Tai Po. Under the public-private partnership (PPP) model, a private business is allowed to build and operate public facilities and pocket the income generated for a set period.

According to a document the bureau submitted to the Legislative Council last week, Tai Po District Council was informed in July about the cultural complex project and consulted again last month.

The private sector will be invited to make expressions of interest in the project in the middle of this year.

Legco's home affairs panel will discuss the scheme on Friday.

The government has already planned to use the partnership model to build a leisure and cultural centre in Kwun Tong and an ice sports centre, a tenpin bowling centre and a park in Tseung Kwan O. It will also invite the private sector to participate in the $6 billion redevelopment of the Sha Tin water treatment plant.

The controversial West Kowloon cultural district project is not officially classified as a PPP project, although it is based on a similar developmental approach.

Legco's approval would not be required for PPP projects because such works do not involve public expenditure, Secretary for Financial Services and Treasury Frederick Ma Si-hang said last month.

This attitude concerns some lawmakers, such as independent legislator Margaret Ng Ngoi-yee, who says it would sideline the lawmaking body.

Further, it would prevent Legco from discharging its duty under the Basic Law of approving public expenditure.

Another concerned observer is Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of the Hong Kong People's Council for Sustainable Development.

He said it was dangerous for the government to adopt the PPP model when there was no mechanism to regulate and govern it.

"Hong Kong needs very clear guidelines when it wants to let the private sector provide public services," he said.

"There is nothing wrong with the PPP model. But those are public facilitates, [meant] to provide services to the public. Surely, it involves the public interest."

The Home Affairs Bureau said in the document to Legco that developers interested in the projects in Kwun Tong and Tseung Kwan O were required to propose a pricing mechanism to ensure that the public was not charged at an unaffordable level.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 04:40 AM   #59
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Alternative views sought on Kowloon cultural hub
Chloe Lai
13 April 2004
South China Morning Post

The University of Hong Kong will conduct its own research into the controversial West Kowloon cultural project.

The public will be questioned on their expectations for the project, and the research will also include a financial analysis of the 40-hectare development.

Danny Yung, one of the organisers of the project, said: "We want to do this research and tell them how to build and manage this cultural district."

Mr Yung said some groups invited by officials to express their views recently had described the government's consultation exercise as window-dressing.

The university research, partially sponsored by the Arts Development Council, could serve the purpose of an alternative consultation, he said.

Mr Yung, who is also programme director of the Hong Kong Institute of Contemporary Culture, said: "It is very important that there is an informed and rational discussion on the future of the area."

The university's Centre for Cultural Policy Research will send a questionnaire to all legislators, district councillors, professional groups, media agencies and property developers by the end of the month to collect their views. It will also work out a number of financial strategies for the project.

The government unveiled the West Kowloon development plan last September. It aims to transform the prime waterfront site into a world-class cultural zone.

The administration will offer a single contract for the development. The winning consortium will have the right to manage the area, twice the size of Taikoo Shing, for 30 years.

Smaller developers say the government has barred them from bidding for the project, while the cultural sector has been upset over the absence of consultation.

The government has postponed its deadline for tenders for three months to June 19.
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Old June 23rd, 2005, 05:24 AM   #60
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