Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 107, Marine Police Headquarters – Forty years champion for the environment

Marine Police Headquarters

In 2002 the Government decided to invite tenders to re-develop the Marine Police Headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui Hill into a heritage tourism development. In May 2003, the tender was awarded to a subsidiary of Cheung Kong Holdings to convert the Victorian heritage building into a hotel with the hill in the front yard turned into a shopping complex. A 50-year lease was granted with 2007 as the completion date for the project.

But the project had never stayed away from controversy. Although the Marine Police Headquarter building was preserved – a declared monument in any case – the hill on which it stood would be razed and re-developed into a Roman-style shopping complex, one which some commentators regarded as incompatible with the heritage. Then came reports that the winning bid had not been the preferred one but for its high tender price of more than $350 million, implying that a second-best option had been chosen based on revenue contribution to the government rather than the best development proposal from a heritage point of view.

As the first advocate of the preservation of the building as well as the Hill, CA’s interest lied in both the historical and the ecological heritage of the site. A briefing by the developer was arranged on 8 January 2004, after which CA sent a letter to the developer on 28 January recording its concerns.

Stating upfront that the Association did not object to a hotel and tourism development for the site, a concern was expressed that the proposed design did not pay enough tribute to the heritage, given that much of the Hill would no longer remain. As CA stated in its letter, “the heritage does not only include the items listed by the Antiquities and Monuments but also the landscape surrounding the historical building.”

As far as the trees were concerned, CA wanted every tree to be preserved wherever possible. The developer did invite a renowned tree expert Prof C Y Jim as Third Party Tree Expert to review the tree transplanting proposals but there was no guarantee that his advice would be taken in full, and as it turned out, the massive tree cutting remained a major bone of contention between CA and the developer.

CA also stressed that the heritage complex should always be regarded as a public good and be allowed access to the community, hence the developer should organize open days and guided tours to encourage the general public to visit and appreciate the heritage building.

As no assurance had been given, CA wrote to the Director of Environmental Protection in 2004 requesting him not to grant the environment permit without satisfactory ecological assessment and tree impacts. But the project went ahead anyway. It did not meet the deadline of 2007 and by the end of 2008, the hotel and the tourism complex was not yet open.

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July 26, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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