Government joins with Hong Kong Jockey Club to conserve and revitalise Central Police Station

The Government will enter into a partnership with the Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) to take forward the conservation and revitalisation of the Central Police Station (CPS) Compound.

The partnership project was endorsed by the Executive Council today (July 15) taking account of the results of a six-month public engagement conducted by the HKJC between October 2007 and April 2008 and a Conservation Management Plan (CMP) for the CPS Compound commissioned by the HKJC.

The Government and the HKJC have agreed that the CPS project will proceed on the following basis:

* The objective is to achieve both conservation and revitalisation of this highly important heritage site and to take the opportunity to showcase in Hong Kong how new and sustainable uses can be integrated creatively into a historic site whilst preserving its overall historic and architectural significance.

* To provide within the CPS Compound a law and order museum to reflect the historical significance of the site and establish sustainable new arts and cultural uses, including a modest sized auditorium, a black-box theatre, a gallery/lecture hall, gallery/exhibition space and ancillary facilities. No observation deck will be provided.

* Given the physical constraints of the existing buildings, the recommendations of the CMP and the objective to establish new and sustainable uses, a new structure will be built within the site to accommodate the above facilities.

* The height and bulk of the new structure should be suitably reduced from that previously proposed to address concerns and views collected during the public engagement exercise but the opportunity should be taken to create a reputable piece of contemporary architecture.

* The restoration, conservation and development of the historic site and buildings in the CPS Compound will have to follow the requirements set by the Antiquities Authority and the project will be subject to the relevant statutory processes.

* The site and buildings will be made available, but not granted, to HKJC which will undertake all renovation, conversion and new built works as well as manage, operate and maintain the CPS Compound as a turnkey project at its own expense to be presented as a gift to the people of Hong Kong.

"We are confident that adherence to these six guiding principles will produce a shining example of heritage conservation work in Hong Kong under the new policy announced by the Chief Executive in his 2007 Policy Address,"said Mrs Carrie Lam, the Secretary for Development.

"Joint efforts with the HKJC will ensure early delivery of this major heritage project for the community. This spirit of co-operation is also in line with another important initiative of the Development Bureau in revitalising other government-owned historic buildings.

"We are much encouraged by the broad public support expressed for HKJC's proposal during the six-month public engagement. For an important heritage site like the CPS, people are clearly in favour of a non-profit-making operation with a strong government commitment.

"People have a legitimate aspiration to visit and enjoy this important cluster of monuments as early as possible. This is a time to act," Mrs Lam added.

The CPS project, however, would still be subject to public scrutiny, including statutory requirements to be set by the Antiquities Authority and statutory processes including those under the Town Planning Ordinance and the Environmental Impact Assessment Ordinance. A detailed traffic impact assessment would also have to be conducted.

The Secretary for Development paid tribute to the HKJC for its commitment to the CPS project. Under the partnership with the Government, the HKJC will meet all the capital and recurrent costs of the project; does not require ownership of the land or buildings; is not seeking any naming right; and will designate future surpluses from the project for other heritage work in Hong Kong.

"This is indeed a very laudable act of the HKJC and a long-lasting gift to the people of Hong Kong," said Mrs Lam.

The Chairman of the HKJC, Mr John Chan, said,"We welcome the Government's acceptance of the Club's proposal and would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their support and their valuable views on the project. We are very glad that the Government will partner with the Club in this project. This is particularly important as the project has to undergo various statutory processes. It also showcases the importance of partnership between the government and not-for-profit organisations in realising the revitalisation plan of Hong Kong heritage.

"We have commissioned one of the UK's most respected firms of conservation architects to prepare a CMP. The recommendations in the CMP are in line with our belief that it is inappropriate simply to conserve the site in its entirety as a monument/museum. The CMP has also recognised that there would need to be some new construction on the site and recommended that any redevelopment or new construction on the site should respect the historic significance of the site.

"I am pleased to announce that we have advised the project's design architects, Herzog & de Meuron, of the views collected from the public during the public consultation period and will advise them on details of the Government's requirements. We are confident that the modifications to be made will be very much in line with what the public expects, as they will be based on, and will respond to, the views expressed by the public."

The design architect of the CPS Compound, Mr Pierre de Meuron, said that he had taken note of the views expressed by the general public in Hong Kong. "While we appreciate the public's support for the project, we have also noted the different views expressed on our design and, accordingly, we will take these views into account in preparing a revised design for the new structure.

"The new design will still incorporate the necessary cultural elements, albeit that its height and bulk will be modified and the observation deck will be removed.

"As with all our international projects, we will be involving local architects as part of our project team. We want and need their local input and knowledge to bring this project to fruition, so that the final product would truly reflect the aspirations of the people of Hong Kong," Mr Meuron said.

Ends/Tuesday, July 15, 2008
Issued at HKT 17:30