Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 22, Victoria Barracks – Forty years champion for the environment

Victoria Barracks

The Victoria Barracks was a cluster of historic military buildings occupying a prime site between Central and Wanchai. In June 1977 government announced a comprehensive redevelopment plan for the 17-hectare site, with the aim is to maximize its development potential. The plan envisaged commercial (11%) and residential (17%) development as the main feature, supplemented by public uses (20%) such as government offices and school buildings. Other than roads and infrastructure, the remaining (38%) will be retained as open space.

CA and the Heritage Society made a joint plea to preserve Victoria Barracks as a public park. Complaining that “urban Hong Kong is grossly overcrowded” and that the government “did not consider overall planning for Central and Wanchai”, CA objected to the residential or commercial use and called for the preservation of the many heritage buildings within the site.

CA seemed to score a partial victory when in September 1977, the planning committee for the redevelopment revised its proposal and submitted a new report to the Governor-in-Council recommending a modest 8% of the land for commercial use and 79% retained for open space, with no residential development. However, in July 1978 the government decided to allocate only 60% as open space and sell a considerably larger proportion for commercial and residential development.

The plan was confirmed in 1980, with one third for commercial development and 10% for residential use – these have become present-day Pacific Place and Regent on the Park. The rest became what is now Hong Kong Park. The Flagstaff House, the oldest historical building used formerly as the residence of the Commander-in-Chief of the British Armed Forces, now houses the Museum of Tea Ware. The Cotton Tree Drive marriage registry used to be the Rawlinson House, whereas the former Wavell House is now an education centre and the Cassels Block the Hong Kong Visual Arts Centre. However, another Birdwood Block identical to the Cassels Block was dismantled, and so was the Murray Barracks although it was later re-assembled at the Stanley waterfront.

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April 28, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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