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LCQ14: Energizing Kowloon East Office

     Following is a question by the Hon Paul Tse and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Mak Chai-kwong, in the Legislative Council today (July 4):


     It has been reported that the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) plans to transform the 200,000 feet derelict land under an elevated section of the Kwun Tong Bypass and the Tsun Yip Street Playground into music performance area and public space, so as to vitalise the industrial zone which falls silent at night time.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) apart from the development of outdoor performance area/public space, and in view of the insufficient timeslots for performances in the Hong Kong Coliseum (HKC), whether it has considered converting the two soccer pitches and two basketball courts in the Tsun Yip Street Playground into an indoor venue which can accommodate both cultural performances (e.g. concerts and visual arts displays) and ball games, so as to add cultural and recreational elements to the Kowloon East core business district project, as well as meet part of the demands for using HKC; if it has, of the outcome; if not, whether it can assess the feasibility of the aforesaid recommendation; and

(b) of a comparison of the level of satisfaction in usage and construction costs between EKEO, which was built with recyclable steel structures and old containers as its essential construction materials and embodies a number of energy-conservation concepts, and traditional office buildings, which are built with materials such as steel, concrete and glasses, etc.; if the outcome of the comparison proves that the former brings about better results on land utilisation and office uses, as well as being more cost effective, whether the authorities will consider constructing more government offices similar to EKEO in other areas in Kowloon East, and relocating some government departments to the redevelopment area to foster regional development and compensate for the deficiency of the recently commissioned new Central Government Complex at Tamar which has already been criticised for not having sufficient office space?



     In his 2011-12 Policy Address, the Chief Executive announced that we would adopt a visionary, co-ordinated and integrated approach to transform Kowloon East, comprising the Kai Tak Development Area (KTDA), the former industrial areas of Kwun Tong and Kowloon Bay, into an attractive central business district (CBD) to sustain Hong Kong's long-term economic development.  In just a few months' time since its establishment in February this year, the Pre-Kowloon East Development Office has organised various briefings, seminars and workshops to engage the public and relevant stakeholders and draw on their ideas and insights.  The views collected had been consolidated to form the Conceptual Master Plan of Kowloon East 2.0 (CMP 2.0), which was announced on June 7,2012 when the Energizing Kowloon East Office (EKEO) was established officially.  The CMP 2.0 embraces the grand vision of promoting our long-term economic growth and global competitiveness by transforming Kowloon East into another premier CBD.  It also spells out the ten main tasks that need to be accomplished in achieving the vision.  They include exploring the possibilities to develop the vacant lot of about 10,000 square metres under the Kwun Tong Bypass into a public space for staging arts and cultural performances and to transform Tsun Yip Street Playground into an inviting and vibrant place.  It is to integrate arts and cultural activities into city life and create a unique atmosphere to set the scene for the transformation of Kowloon East.

     My reply to the two parts of the question is as follows:

(a) The Tsun Yip Street Playground (TYS Playground) lies at the heart of the Kwun Tong Business Area where buildings are densely packed.  According to the Draft Kwun Tong (South) Outline Zoning Plan (S/K14S/17), the TYS Playground is zoned as 'Open Space'.  It is an invaluable 'city lung'.  We therefore should strive to preserve and transform this urban space into a place where people would like to work, to do business, to walk, to stay and to play.  To this end, we will enhance tree planting and greening works and consider introducing new design elements for transforming the TYS Playground into Kwun Tong Industrial Heritage Park.  The Park will be a testament to the transformation of Kowloon East from an old industrial area into a new business centre as well as a link for the past, present and future.  The TYS Playground can also be used to stage various arts performances or carnivals in future, turning this rare open space in the heart of Kwun Tong into a dynamic and vibrant public space within the business area.

(b) The office building of the EKEO commenced operation in early June.  Apart from basic office facilities, it also houses an information kiosk.  Apart from serving as a venue for hosting public engagement activities and receiving visitors, the kiosk also accommodates exhibition panels, models and video programmes about Energizing Kowloon East and KTDA.  In addition to providing an efficient workspace for the professional EKEO team in Kowloon East, the office building of the EKEO is a pilot project that showcases a new sustainable design concept with low carbon footprint.  The building itself serves as a demonstration model for other temporary buildings in Hong Kong in the future, including construction site offices.  As the office building is a temporary structure made of recyclable freight containers and other steel works, its size and height are restricted by the container module, making it only suitable for short and medium term use by small to medium sized teams.  Given that the office building is a temporary structure and its design, materials and building services facilities are intended for short-term use only, its construction cost is lower than that of a general permanent government office building.  That said, as the design concepts and standards for temporary structures and general government buildings are different, we should not draw a direct comparison between their construction unit costs.

     On relocating government departments to new development areas, the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council has approved funding for the construction of Trade and Industry Tower in the KTDA in January 2012.  The Tower will provide 33,000 square metre net operating floor area and will mainly be used for accommodating the government offices currently housed in the Trade and Industry Department Tower in Mong Kok as well as other leased private premises.  Moreover, the three existing office buildings near the Wan Chai waterfront will also be relocated to the two reserved sites for new government office buildings at the KTDA.  Moving government offices from prime locations to government office buildings in the KTDA will not only optimise use of land resources but also boost the development of Kowloon East.

Ends/Wednesday, July 4, 2012
Issued at HKT 12:56


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