Views on revitalising Central Police Station Compound fully considered

In response to media enquiries about an application to the Town Planning Board (TPB) submitted by community groups and non-government organisations which proposes a building height restriction of 77mPD on the Central Police Station (CPS) Compound site (the site), a spokesman for the Development Bureau said that such an application was unnecessary.

The spokesman explained that the height restriction of 77mPD was prescribed by the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) in 2004 in the context of conducting a commercial tender for re-development of the site. Since then, various new developments have taken place.

Instead of adopting a commercial approach for conservation of the site, the Government has entered into a partnership with the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) Charities Trust to conserve the site and revitalise it for public enjoyment on a not-for-profit basis. HKJC conducted a comprehensive six-month public engagement exercise from October 2007 to April 2008 to gauge public views on the proposed revitalisation of the CPS Compound. A UK conservation firm was also commissioned by HKJC to prepare a conservation management plan.

It was agreed that good alternative uses should be found for the site and in introducing changes to the site, such as the creation of some modest performing arts facilities which have received broad support and are made part of the agreed approach to revitalise the CPS Compound, key conservation principles would be adhered to. On the issue of height restriction, HKJC will revise the original design of the proposed new structure to reduce its bulk and height to address concerns expressed during the public engagement.

"The above facts have shown that the public engagement exercise has been done in a thorough and comprehensive manner.

"The allegation of insufficient consideration of public views in taking forward this key heritage conservation project by the applicant cannot be substantiated. It is also unfair for the applicant to suggest that HKJC has not disclosed details about the revised height and bulk of the new structure as HKJC together with its design architect are still working on the revised design," the spokesman said.

In preparing the revised design, HKJC will take all views into account; the preservation requirements set out by AMO will be adhered to. Moreover, planning permission will be required for any new developments within the site. HKJC as the project proponent will have to demonstrate that the proposed building height for any new buildings is compatible with the historic buildings and is acceptable to TPB. Imposing a building height at this stage as sought by the applicant will remove any design flexibility and is unnecessary.

"Since the project has to go through the statutory procedures including those under the Town Planning Ordinance and Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance, the public will have further opportunities to express their views," the spokesman said.

Ends/Saturday, February 7, 2009
Issued at HKT 17:17