Grannie Green Revivial

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Chp 113, Dragon Garden – Forty years champion for the environment

Dragon Garden (龍圃花園)

In 2006 CA was contacted by Cynthia Lee (李康意) regarding the possible sale of Dragon Garden (龍圃花園), at Tsing Lung Tau in Sham Tseng, the largest private garden mansion in Hong Kong built by the late philanthropist Lee Iu-cheung (李耀祥). The Garden was designed by Mr Lee and incorporated the characteristics of Sung, Ming, Qing Dynasties and the principles of Confucianism, Buddhism and Taoism. There were over a hundred plant species in the garden, including over 30 Buddhist Pines which were probably the biggest in Hong Kong.

Having inspected the site, CA was convinced it housed an important heritage of Hong Kong and agreed to take the lead in campaigning for its preservation. Part of the Garden was designed by one of China’s earliest pioneers and most famous architects, Mr. Chu Pin (朱彬). Apart from the historical significance, the development could be regarded as one of the architectural masterpieces in China. Due to its uniqueness and magnificence, it has appeared in famous films like “Man with the Golden Gun” (James Bond 007), “Enter the Dragon” (Bruce Lee), “Noble House” (James Clavell’s), and numerous local films over the past 50 years. For a period of time between 1960 and 1980, the owner opened it to the public.

But by the time CA saw the property, the family was engaged in talks to sell the property to a developer. CA mounted a three-prong campaign: to try to persuade the owners to preserve; to ask the government to intervene; and to seek appropriate planning control. Accordingly, in July 2006 CA wrote to the Secretary for Home Affairs and the Tourism Commissioner asking the government to assess the cultural value of Dragon Garden and to work with the owner on its effective conservation and possible tourism potential. CA also made an application to the Town Planning Board to rezone the site into an appropriate Greenbelt zoning for preservation of heritage.

It was later reported that the deal between the developer and the family broke down, and in August Dr Lee Shiu (李韶), one of the sons of the late Mr Lee, came to an agreement with the rest of the family to purchase the site with the expressed wish to preserve it. CA wrote to Dr Lee on 29 August congratulating him on the acquisition and pledging CA’s support in finding the right mechanism for preservation and re-use of the Garden.

In September 2006 the Antiquities Advisory Board gave Dragon Garden a Grade 2 status. Dr Lee had offered to donate the Garden to the government subject to a satisfactory management mechanism being found. By end-2008 the two sides were still discussing details on the exact boundary of the site and the conservation options.

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August 1, 2015 - Posted by | Dr WK Chan book

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