In the past few weeks, I have introduced the various policy initiatives under the purview of the Development Bureau (DEVB) put forth in the Policy Address. This week, let’s change the subject and talk about my thoughts on the earlier visits to Yuen Long and Wong Tai Sin districts. During each district visit, my team and I would meet with local District Council members to listen to their advice and suggestions on government work and district affairs and explain to them the Government’s ideas and views, with a view to enhancing mutual understanding through interactions. We would also take the opportunity to visit district projects to see how they go from nothing to something. Recently, we visited the Former Lau Fau Shan Police Station under Batch V of the Revitalising Historic Buildings Through Partnership Scheme (Revitalisation Scheme), and the Kai Tak River, the revitalisation of which was completed this year.
In recent years, the word “revitalisation” frequently appears in the media. Whether it is a historic building or a river that is being revitalised, we encounter various difficulties during the whole process from preparation, planning, design to project completion and operation. As such, it requires the joint efforts of our colleagues and stakeholders behind the scene. The DEVB launched the Revitalisation Scheme in 2008. Through collaboration with non-profit-making organisations, historic buildings are preserved, revitalised and put into good use. So far, five batches of projects have been rolled out, involving a total of 19 projects. Ten years have passed. I dare not say that we have achieved numerous fruitful results but indeed many precious seeds have already been sown for the work in heritage conservation.
Former police station turning into a guide dogs academy
At the end of last month, I visited the Yuen Long District together with the Under Secretary for Development, Mr LIU Chun-san, and the Political Assistant to the Secretary for Development, Mr FUNG Ying-lun, Allen. During the time, we were accompanied by the Chairman of the Yuen Long District Council, Mr SHUM Ho-kit, on our visit to the Former Lau Fau Shan Police Station and were briefed by the Commissioner for Heritage, Mr YAM Ho-san, José, on the project details of the restoration and revitalisation of this Grade 3 historic building.
Despite its current old appearance both inside and outside, this building has found a new owner and will shortly be revitalised into the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Academy by the Hong Kong Guide Dogs Association under Batch V of the Revitalisation Scheme. Guide dogs will be bred and trained on-site to provide services for the visually impaired. Some dogs will be trained as therapy dogs to provide animal-assisted treatment for children with autism or people who have communicative problems. Dogs are people’s best friends and are also good helpers of those with special needs. I hope that the revitalisation project, once completed for operation, will give the old building a new lease of life and provide appropriate services for people in need in society.
Preserving architectural features
The Former Lau Fau Shan Police Station, built in 1962, was an outpost and operational base of the Hong Kong Police to keep a watch on illegal immigrants. In 2000, the squad stationed in this police station was incorporated into the Tin Shui Wai Police Station and the site has been vacant since then. To reflect and bring out the historical significance of the police station, the revitalisation project will preserve its important structures and architectural features, including two round guard towers on the roof, a loading and unloading area for guns, an armory, a cell room, and grille block screen walls.
From the balcony of the Former Lau Fau Shan Police Station, you will have a stunning, panoramic view of Ping Shan, Deep Bay and Shenzhen. Through exhibitions, workshops and guided tours, the academy will introduce the history and architectural features of the old police station. The history of Lau Fau Shan and the surrounding area, such as the development of oyster farms and fishing industry, will also be covered. The revitalisation works are expected to commence in 2021. We envisage operation of the project in 2023.
Revitalising the nullah into the beautiful Kai Tak River
The day after my Yuen Long visit, I went to Wong Tai Sin with colleagues and met with district council members to inspect an important project there – Kai Tak River Improvement Works. I was briefed by the Chairman of the Wong Tai Sin District Council, Mr LI Tak-hong, and the Chief Engineer of the Drainage Services Department (DSD), Mr TAI Wai-man, on the background, features and progress of the project.
The Kai Tak River, called the Kai Tak Nullah in the past, is 2.4 km in total length and one of the major drainage channels in East Kowloon area. The DSD implemented Kai Tak River Improvement Works in phases starting from 2011, with a view to enhancing the river’s drainage capacity to mitigate the flooding risk at Choi Hung Road. The department also took the opportunity to revitalise the nullah into the first urban green river corridor in Hong Kong by injecting various greening and ecological elements along the river banks, such as planting different species (e.g. Bougainvillea spectabilis), placing imitation rocks inside river to offer a rest place for birds (e.g. little egret), and providing fish shelters in the riverbed to serve as a still water area for fish to rest during strong river flow.
As the primary function of the Kai Tak River is flood relief, the water level in the river channel will rise quickly during heavy rainstorms. For safety considerations, members of the public are not allowed access to the river channel, a viewing platform is constructed along the river instead. The public can also appreciate the views of the Kai Tak River from both sides of the pavement or the footbridge.
Interactive communication and collaboration
Before the implementation of works, the DSD collected public views on the improvement of the Kai Tak River. The department also consulted and took on board the opinions of the Wong Tai Sin District Council and related organisations regarding project design and various beautification and conservation measures. In the implementation of policy initiatives, more often than not, we face people with different stances, views and perspectives. Through communication, interaction, listening to each other and elaboration, I hope we can deepen understanding with stakeholders and pull together to improve our living environment and make Hong Kong a more liveable city.
4 November, 2018Back