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designing hong kong
The plan for the West Kowloon Cultural District is full of loopholes 

There are two ways to have certainty over the West Kowloon Cultural District (WKCD) development. First is the Bill for the WKCD Authority which is currently being discussed in the Legislative Council. Second and mostly overlooked is the Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) under the Town Planning Ordinance.
 

The Government has now proposed amendments (S/K20/21) to the
South West Kowloon OZP for approval by the Town Planning Board.
 
However, these fall far short from the promises made to the Hong Kong community.


1.     The unusual specification of a ‘house’ as a permitted form of development

We object to include ‘House’ as a use given the planning intention and character of the area.


2.
    
Minimum area for cultural and arts facilities and open space at ground level are missing

There is no restriction on the amount of commercial development and Government is free to add as they see fit. We ask for the OZP to be in line with the promises made to the Legislative Council and the Consultative Committee on the Core Arts and Cultural Facilities of the WKCD:

  1. A minimum 36% of the total plot ratio shall be for cultural and arts facilities; 
  1. A minimum of 15 hectares of the public open space shall be at ground level and a waterfront promenade is provided of not less than 20 meters in width.

3.
    
A world class master plan or a tasteless pan cake?
 

The Government wants to include bureaucratic height restrictions. These remove every possibility of a creative and world class design for the WKCD.
To enable architects and planners to do outstanding work we need to replace the restrictions with clear existing guidelines:

  1. All new development, or addition, or alteration and/or modification to or redevelopment of an existing building shall reflect the Hong Kong Planning and Standards Guidelines and the Harbour Planning Principles and Guidelines.

4.
    
A million loopholes around the promise to cap the plot ratio at 1.81

From car parking, bus and train stations to service facilities, gardens and swimming pools, t
he Government is excluding a long list of uses from the maximum plot ratio.  This will lead to excessive bulk and a failure to control building massing. We ask to limit the bonus, unaccountable and free gross floor area and to state clearly that no uses may be disregarded, and that all uses are accountable and included in the plot ratio.


5.     Statutory public consultation must be guaranteed 

In line with the promises made to the Legislative Council, we ask for a fifth note to be added to the OZP: ‘A Master Plan submission to the Town Planning Board (TPB) for approval is required.’ By doing so checks and balances are ensured as the Town Planning Board and the Public will be able to comment on the master plans for the WKCD under the statutory rules of the Town Planning Ordinance. 
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