Tsim Sha Tsui, one of the most crowded areas in Hong Kong, is likely to see a huge expansion if a government plan to develop its underground space materializes.
The Civil Engineering and Development Department and the Planning Department launched on Wednesday the second phase of public consultation on a pilot study to develop underground space in selected strategic urban areas (SUAs), the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The study, which started in June 2015, aims to explore the potential for underground space development of four selected SUAs, namely Tsim Sha Tsui West, Causeway Bay, Happy Valley, and Admiralty/Wan Chai.
Based on the results of the first stage of the consultation, which was completed in February 2017, the public generally agreed that the proper utilization of underground space and provision of an all-weather pedestrian network could alleviate the overcrowded street-level walking environment and improve pedestrian connectivity in those areas.
After a deeper evaluation of the conceptual schemes in the four SUAs, the government now recommends giving priority to the Kowloon Park Conceptual Scheme in Tsim Sha Tsui West.
In a document submitted to the Yau Tsim Mong District Council, the two departments said they chose Tsim Sha Tsui West because it not only is in the downtown area and close to the transportation hub but is also a place where commercial, entertainment, art, cultural, tourism and shopping activities abound.
As such, it is believed that developing the Kowloon Park Conceptual Scheme with priority can help ease the crowded pedestrian environment in the area.
Under the proposal, the scheme will involve an underground area of more than 340,000 square feet with five stories of facilities that will offer a combined floor area of more than 540,000 sq. ft. Of this, 30 percent will be provided for retail and catering while 40 percent will be for community facilities, pedestrian passages and public space.
There will be three pedestrian walkways connecting Nathan Road, Canton Road, and Austin Road/Haiphong Road.
The scheme has taken references from the Oasis 21 in Nagoya’s Sakae district in Japan and the Les Halle in Paris, both of which share similar geographic background, project nature and purpose of development with the Kowloon Park, according to the documents.
The scheme, which is expected to be completed in three to four years, will have a considerable impact on the commercial rents in the neighborhood.
The public engagement digest and details of activities are available on the government website (www.urbanunderground.gov.hk). Members of the public are invited to provide feedback on or before Aug. 21.
Meanwhile, it is understood the government thinks the time is not yet ripe for the development of underground space at Victoria Park in Causeway Bay and Southorn Playground in Wan Chai.
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