Font Size
Default Font Size Larger Font Size Largest Font Size RSS Subscription Advanced Search Sitemap Mobile/Accessible Version 繁體 简体

Wait nearly over for WKCD plan call

February 26, 2011

West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board Chairman Henry Tang

It is sometimes said that the best things come in threes. That has been the case with the three brilliant conceptual plan options for the West Kowloon Cultural District. Now, the time has come to choose one overall plan and get the WKCD off the drawing board and into reality.
After a long public-consultation exercise, the West Kowloon Cultural District Authority yesterday released the Report on the Analysis of Views for the Stage 2 Public Engagement Exercise on the three conceptual plan options. At the same time, a selection panel of the WKCDA has completed its review of the three plans. The scores given by members are being kept in the custody of an independent auditor.
The WKCDA Board will soon meet to examine recommendations by the panel and decide on a selected option. If all goes well, the suspense will be over soon.
I have no doubt it will be a tough call for board members to select one from three excellent planning masterpieces.
Let's first look at what the public have told us. Opinions collected during the Stage 2 Public Engagement Exercise held between August and November last year were independently collated and systemically analysed by the Public Policy Research Institute of the Hong Kong Polytechnic University. The results indicated that all three conceptual plans were well received. Their scores were very close in nearly all criteria. It goes to show that each of the three plans has its unique characteristics and supporters, and that the WKCDA had rightly picked three great masters for the project.
Challenging task
The task of the selection panel has not been easy. The panel comprised experts in arts and culture, planning, architecture and engineering as well as finance and people with community background.
Over the past three months, they have held several meetings, listened to expert views and deliberated on the plans from different perspectives. These include the technical aspects, core arts and culture facilities layout, design and phasing flexibility as well as financial arrangements. The panel members then scored each of the plans based on the following six criteria set by the Board:
* meeting the planning design principles;
* flexibility of design and phasing;
* meeting community aspirations;
* relative technical strengths;
* financial robustness; and
* fulfillment of key planning and development requirements set by Government.
Public opinions, preferences and inclinations are among the key considerations in the selection process. The WKCDA is tasked with conducting a comprehensive review based on the above six criteria. This will ensure that the selected conceptual plan would not only best suit the WKCD development objectives but also be conducive to long-term arts and cultural development in Hong Kong.
Looking back at the two stages of public engagement, we have already seen positive signs as we move the WKCD project forward.
The first stage of public engagement enabled the WKCDA and the three planning teams to fully grasp public aspirations for the vision, concept and priority of the cultural district. We then moved to develop abstract ideas into concrete plans as the three conceptual plan options took shape.
The second stage shed more light on the relative strengths of all features of the three options. This has provided a sound basis on which to make our final decision. It has also helped us identify key features of each of the plans preferred by the public. We will examine whether the popular features of each of the plans could be incorporated into the eventual Development Plan. This would have to be done without compromising the integrity and completeness of the selected conceptual plan.
Learning process
This has been a learning process for us all. During the engagement process, we have witnessed how organisations, stakeholders and the public have explored new ideas along with the WCKDA team. We have all gained knowledge and grown together with the WKCD.
The response from the public has been very encouraging. Some 30,000 people visited the roving exhibitions of the three plans; 4,800 people took time to fill out our questionnaires, 2,500 took part in the exit poll. There were lively discussions in forums, working group meetings and on the web along with numerous articles and submissions.
We are deeply touched by people's care and anticipation of this project. Their passion strengthens our belief in the WKCD project and, at the same time, makes us even more acutely aware of our responsibility.
It will be no easy task to select one from the three options on the table. Inevitably supporters of the other two options will be disappointed.  But let me assure you, we shall give the plans the most thorough deliberation when we decide, bearing in mind the long-term development of the project. We shall also work with people of different views to win their support for the selected option.
More and more people who care about the project have told me: "No matter which option is eventually chosen, let's get on with it. No more dithering, be bold and go full steam ahead."
We have done the preparation, we have collected the views and we have gathered the experts. Now it is time to make the call.
West Kowloon Cultural District Authority Board Chairman Henry Tang's article was published in the media on February 26.