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LCQ20: Modifications of a preservation-cum-development project by Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui

Following is a question by the Hon Tanya Chan and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Eric Ma, in the Legislative Council today (February 22):

Question:

In June 2011, the Chief Executive in Council approved the land lease modification for the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH) Compound at Lower Albert Road (Central site) and the in-situ land exchange for another site of HKSKH at Clementi Road, Mount Butler (Mount Butler site), at nominal premiums to facilitate HKSKH's implementation of a preservation-cum-development project (HKSKH development project), which includes the preservation of all four historic buildings at the Central site. According to the papers submitted earlier by the authorities to the Central and Western District Council and the Wan Chai District Council respectively, HKSKH decided, after reviewing its proposals for the two aforesaid sites, to modify its plans to construct a building at the Central site for use as a non-profit-making private hospital instead of constructing two buildings there, and only to redevelop the existing kindergarten at the Mount Butler site in place of constructing three buildings there. Regarding the HKSKH development project, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) whether the Government has revised the relevant land lease conditions and the land premiums payable by HKSKH in the light of the aforesaid modifications to the HKSKH development project; if so, of the updated land lease conditions for the two aforesaid sites as well as the respective land premiums payable;

(2) whether the Government has, in determining the latest land premium for the Central site, made reference to the amount of premium (i.e. $1.688 billion) payable by the operator of Gleneagles Hong Kong Hospital (a private hospital to be commissioned shortly) when the operator secured the hospital site through tender in 2013; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(3) whether the Government will require HKSKH to conduct a public consultation on HKSKH's plan of developing a private hospital; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that; whether the Government has required HKSKH to conduct environmental impact assessment, archaeological impact assessment and traffic impact assessment for the modified proposal; if so, of the details; if not, the reasons for that;

(4) given that the proposed gross floor area (GFA) to be built in the original proposals of the HKSKH development project is 48 000 square metres altogether, whereas that in the modified proposals is 50 959 square metres, whether the Government knows the justifications for HKSKH to increase the GFA of the project by nearly 3 000 square metres and the details of such an increase; and

(5) given that the heights of the two buildings proposed to be built in the original proposal for the Central site are 108 metres and 103 metres above the Hong Kong Principal Datum (mPD) respectively, whereas the height of the building proposed to be built in the modified proposal is 134.8 mPD, which far exceeds the heights of the buildings nearby, whether the Government has assessed how the adoption of the modified proposal may affect the view of nearby buildings; if so, of the outcome and the follow-up actions taken by the Government; if not, the reasons for that?

Reply:

President,

My consolidated reply to the various parts of the Hon Tanya Chan's question is as follows:

The Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (HKSKH) has proposed a preservation-cum-development project for its Compound at 1 Lower Albert Road (the Central site). There are four historic buildings within the Compound, namely, the Bishop's House (Grade 1), St. Paul's Church (Grade 1), the Church Guest House (also known as Martin House, Grade 1), and the Old Sheng Kung Hui Kei Yan Primary School (originally the south wing of St. Paul's College, Grade 2). According to the original proposal, the HKSKH would preserve all four historic buildings, and other existing buildings would be replaced by new ones to provide needed space for HKSKH's religious and community services. To spare sufficient space for the provision of enhanced community services and to accommodate the scale of development at the Central site, the HKSKH initially proposed to relocate the kindergarten and the facilities for theological education at the Central site to its other site at Clementi Road, Mount Butler, Wan Chai (the Mount Butler site). In June 2011, the Chief Executive in Council approved the land lease modification for the Central site and the in-situ land exchange at the Mount Butler site at nominal premium to facilitate the preservation of all four historic buildings at the Central site.

According to the Food and Health Bureau, it is the Government's healthcare policy to facilitate the dual-track development and collaboration of public and private healthcare sectors. Facilitating the sustainable development of private healthcare service can increase the overall capacity of the healthcare system in Hong Kong and provide the patients with more choices. Having taken into account the relocation of a public hospital (i.e. Alice Ho Miu Ling Nethersole Hospital) to another district, and the growing population arising from the development in the Central and Western District, the HKSKH revisited the plan to redevelop its Central site in recent years and has decided to build a non-profit-making private hospital within the site (including upon the site of the former Hong Kong Central Hospital), with the number of beds expanded to 293. The aim is to provide the residents in the Central and Western District with alternative healthcare services other than the public ones. The HKSKH has ensured that the development at the Central site blends in with the four historic buildings in the design. The three Grade 1 historic buildings (i.e. Bishop's House, St. Paul's Church, and the Church Guest House) will be fully preserved, while the façades of the Old Sheng Kung Hui Kei Yan Primary School (Grade 2) will be retained with its interior altered limitedly and appropriately as necessary.

The HKSKH has been exchanging views with the District Councils and the local communities in relation to the redevelopment proposals at the Central site and the Mount Butler site. Regarding the Central site, in the submission to the Central and Western District Council (C&WDC) in March 2013 on "Progress Update on Various Projects under 'Conserving Central' ", it was reported that the "HKSKH is reviewing its proposal for the Central site to explore the feasibility of making amendments to the uses to be provided at the site (including the construction of a private hospital) in the light of its own operational needs." Since then, the C&WDC has been informed of the progress through further submissions. Subsequently, at the C&WDC meeting in July 2015, the HKSKH briefed Members its preliminary proposal of developing a private hospital, including the number of beds, the number of storeys, as well as the progress in other aspects. In January 2017, the HKSKH attended the C&WDC meeting again to report on the latest details of the revised proposal at the Central site, including the number of beds, the building height and number of storeys, the development area, the number of car parking spaces, the arrangement for fees and charges, etc. of the proposed non-profit-making private hospital. Artistic impressions of the revised proposal were also presented at the meeting. Members generally supported the revitalisation proposal, and the setting up of a hospital in the District. The HKSKH noted members' views, and will continue to report progress to the C&WDC.

For the Mount Butler site, the HKSKH reported the revised redevelopment proposals at the meetings of the Wan Chai District Council (WCDC) in May 2015 and November 2016. Having considered the views of the WCDC and the local community (including the Concerned Group for Jardine's Lookout SKH Redevelopment, hereafter the "Concerned Group") on the original redevelopment proposal at the Mount Butler site, the HKSKH has revised the proposal, that is, only the kindergarten will be redeveloped and the proposed construction of a complex for theological and other education-related uses and an ancillary hostel for students and teaching staff will not be proceeded with. Meetings and views exchanged with the Concerned Group throughout the period led to the in-principle consensus between the two parties on the revised redevelopment proposal.

The Central site and the Mount Butler site are both zoned "Government, Institution or Community" ("G/IC") on the Approved Central District Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) No. S/H4/16 and the Approved Jardine's Lookout and Wong Nai Chung Gap OZP No. S/H13/12. There is no plot ratio or building height restrictions for the two sites under the OZPs. Hospital and kindergarten use are always permitted on land within the "G/IC" zone.

The proposed HKSKH hospital at the Central site will be 25 storeys high (including three levels of basement) measuring 134.8 metres above the Hong Kong Principal Datum (mPD), with a total gross floor area of 46 659 square metres. As far as the proposed building height is concerned, it is considered not incompatible with that of the surrounding, noting that the adjacent building is 117 mPD in height and the building height restrictions of the area to the west of the site range from 120 mPD to 150 mPD. Relevant departments have requested the HKSKH to assess the impacts on traffic, visual, air ventilation, heritage value of the historic buildings, etc. to be brought by the revised proposal. They will take into account the surrounding area of the Central site when examining the assessment reports.

The HKSKH is now finalising the details of the revised proposals of the Central site and the Mount Butler site (including the gross floor area of the two sites, etc.). We will seek approval from the Chief Executive in Council on the preservation-cum-development proposal in due course. If the HKSKH's revised proposal requires lease modification and payment of additional land premium, we will process the proposal in accordance with the applicable practice.

Ends/Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Issued at HKT 14:30

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