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.
Ends/Friday, December 12, 2003