REVEALED: Hong Kong's ambitious plans for huge US$32bn sports park

The developers of a 28-hectare sports complex in Hong Kong have released new renderings and a promotional video showcasing the project, which is being considered for approval by the territory’s Town Planning Board (TPB).

Located on the former site of the Kai Tak airport in South East Kowloon, the Kai Tak Sports Park has previously been described by the government as “the most important investment in sports infrastructure in recent decades.”

Plans for the project include a 50,000-capacity stadium that can host international sporting events, a public sports ground, an indoor sports centre, a 60,000sq m (645,835sq ft) retail and dining area, and more than eight hectares of public open space with landscaped gardens, jogging trails and a waterfront promenade.

Local design practice Leigh & Orange and Australian sports specialists Jackson Architecture have led the design of the scheme, while a joint venture between global auditing firm KPMG and consultancy Advisian is working with the government's Home Affairs Bureau to make it happen.

Hong Kong’s Environmental Protection Department approved the plan in January, pre-construction works have taken place, and now members of the Home Affairs Bureau’s Legislative Council are being asked to support a funding application to the government’s Finance Committee.

Final planning approval must be granted by the TPB. It is currently reviewing a request from the developers, filed last month, to relax building height restrictions from 55 metres (180ft) above Principal Datum (mPD) to 70 mPD (230ft).

According to the bureau, such allowances are “comparable to international practice” and would allow the main stadium to be “on par with latest designs in other parts of the world.” It has argued that the additional vertical space is needed to install a spanned truss system for a retractable roof, which will ensure the stadium complies with noise level regulations and can be used in all weathers.

The extra height would also “add visual interest as a landmark to the skyline, ensure sufficient space for crowd dispersal management and celebrate Kai Tak Sports Park development as a gateway.”

Approval is also being sought for a hotel development and a large outdoor restaurant, in order to cater to athletes, sport-related organisations and the media.

The government believes the park would promote the enjoyment and benefits of sports for people of different ages and abilities, while also supporting elite athletics and attracting international events. According to its estimates, a lack of infrastructural investment combined with the growing population means that Hong Kong will suffer a shortfall of three indoor sports centres and one public sports ground by 2024 if nothing is done.

According to its plans, the main stadium in Kai Tak Sports Park would host at least 10 football matches annually, in addition to 30 concerts and other events. Each of the other facilities would be used to host competitive events more than 40 times per year.

The estimated cost of the construction works for the Sports Park is about US$31.9bn (€30bn, £25.5bn).

First published, written by Kim Megson, 21 February 2016