A popular lawn at West Kowloon Cultural District has been concreted and turned into a 150-space car park, with the new access road shuttering bike rental kiosks, to the dismay of many park users over the New Year holiday.
Visitors to the lawn found the landmark feature paved over and fenced off, with car park markings outlining a fresh car park linking to the new outdoor Cantopop venue.
Enquiries revealed the government’s West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA) had, in December 2021, sub-let the land surrounding the Nursery Park and North Lawn – some 140,000 sq ft – to entertainment firm Right Grace Entertainment.
According to Patrick Lam, Senior Traffic and Transport Engineer with WKCDA, the new car park “was one of the requirements in our temporary event package tendered last year by the Commercial Team.”
Lam says the car park, built by Right Grace under the terms of its tenancy agreement, may open “end Q1 or early Q2” and will be for public use, charged hourly.
While WKCDA says the car park and music venue is “temporary”, the statutory authority did not respond to questions on the duration of the contract with Right Grace or how long the car park would exist.
Other “temporary” car parks in the area have become permanent features of the city.
WKCDA says it is still waiting for approvals from Buildings Department on access roads for the car park, while it says Transport Department is “aware” of the development.
The opening of an access road will also scupper the bike rental kiosks which occupied the private road adjacent to the Western Harbour Crossing/Highway 3 – the bike rental sheds have been shuttered and dumped into storage in the WKCDA offices car park.
Park users over Chinese New Year reacted with dismay to the concreting of the lawn, with many standing to take pictures of the newly concreted car park.
One park user expressed sadness at the loss of the facility. “It was indeed a nice lawn, very popular for families that wanted to escape the overrun lawn in front. Sad it’s gone.”
The visitor said the land was “immensely valuable” and criticised the “horrendous” Palace Museum which, they said, divided West Kowloon in two.
“Would be a shame if it’s going to be a parking lot for the next decade or so.”
The lawn had been popular with families having picnics, riding balance bikes and flying kites, with minimal interference from authorities. By contrast, this weekend, security guards angrily chided kids riding small bicycles on the lawns nearer M+, half a kilometre southeast from the obliterated North Lawn.
A Transit Jam investigation in November found almost half of park users visited by private car, an interesting finding given that, in 2015, WKCDA told LegCo only around 8% of visitors would use private cars.
A new footbridge linking the luxury Elements mall with the M+ park may improve the share of visitors using public transport. But one visitor said they parked in Elements and walked across as it was much cheaper to park in Elements, at $22 per hour on holidays against $32 in the M+ car parks.