Private office idea for HQ's west wing

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 16 May, 2012, 12:00am


A top conservation adviser says the west wing of the government's former headquarters in Central should not be sold off for redevelopment but could be converted into grade-A offices for private use.

Bernard Chan, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, set out his views on controversial plans to redevelop the building for the first time yesterday, a month before the board meets to decide on the heritage rating for the entire complex.

The board's decision will be based on the recommendations of a panel of heritage experts, which is understood to have concluded that the entire complex, including the west wing as well as the older east and central wings, should be given a grade-one historic rating, the highest.

Chan said the government had told him experts were still studying the public's views on the complex.

'If the government doesn't retain the ownership [of the west wing], it will have its connection to Government Hill severed, which I cannot agree with,' Chan said. 'I've already told the government that leaving the site to a developer's hand will trigger great public opposition.'

Chan says he accepts the government's argument that the city needs more grade-A office buildings 'but turning it [the west wing] into grade-A offices for the use of non-government organisations also looks acceptable to me.' He said some alterations to the building, built in 1959, would be acceptable.

A grade-one rating would not necessarily save it from demolition, but would place it in a pool of buildings waiting to be declared monuments by Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, in her capacity as the Antiquities Authority.

Chan said last year the he expected the government would respect the board's conclusions in deciding whether to sell the west wing.

Conservationists have blasted government plans to demolish the complex to make way for a 32-storey building and a public garden.