Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 105, Old Stanley Police Station – Forty years champion for the environment

Old Stanley Police Station

The Old Stanley Police Station, built in 1859, is the oldest of its kind still surviving in Hong Kong. During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese Gendarmerie used it as the local headquarter with a mortuary added to the building. After the war, the building reverted to its original use as police station until 1974. Since then it had been used as a sub-office of the Southern District Office and an Italian restaurant.

After the restaurant closed, the government found a new use of the building in 2002, namely, as a branch of the Wellcome Supermarket. That might have been a totally sound decision for the Government Property Agent, but it caused much indignation in the community, not least CA, who filed a complaint to the Secretary for Financial Services and the Treasury and the Secretary for Home Affairs.

After an unsuccessful attempt to ask the Supermarket to give it up, CA took the initiative – without the least gesture of support from the government – to engage Wellcome in discussion on minimizing the adverse impact of the supermarket and maximizing the heritage potential of the building. CA wanted the original design to be preserved, not just the structure (which would have been required by the Antiquities and Monuments Office anyway), and encouraged the Supermarket to make space for a heritage corridor linking the ground floor through the steps to the balcony on the second floor, to describe the background and explain the historical value of the building.

The Wellcome Supermarket opened on 24 January 2003. Besides preserving the structure, the design of the building was by and large maintained, though CA’s advice of a historical corridor was not heeded. CA issued a press release on same day continuing to press for such a heritage corridor.

In 2007, CA had to register a protest against the renewal of the tenancy for the Supermarket. In its letter to the AMO in February 2007: “While it is commendable that the physical structure of the building is preserved, what makes heritage a heritage, i.e., the historical and cultural meaning has been vandalized. The significance of the building being a symbol of government presence can not been conveyed to the visitors or customers by the standard design and shelves of the shop.”

But the bigger issue was that heritage buildings owned by the Government should not be managed by the Government Property Agent, conservation not being its responsibility.


July 24, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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