Cathedral fears damage from Hilton Hotel redevelopment
By AMY CHEW
THE proposed redevelopment of the Hong Kong Hilton in Central into an office and hotel complex has raised concerns that nearby St John's Cathedral could be damaged.
The Dean of St John's, the Very Reverend Christopher Phillips, said he would be keeping a sharp eye on the proposed redevelopment by the Cheung Kong group.
'Our building is about 150 years old and not built to modern standards to withstand the pounding from a big development. We are concerned that it might damage our building,' he said.
The church will take a wait-and-see attitude. The Hilton Hotel is tentatively scheduled to cease operations in April.
Mr Phillips said they were also alarmed by rumours that Cheung Kong is seeking to redevelop the car park next to the Hilton.
'If that happens, that will bring the redevelopment closer to the cathedral,' Mr Phillips said.
'At the moment, we are hearing so many stories and we are not sure exactly what is happening. We will decide what to do closer to the time and may seek professional advice.' Trevor Keen, the principal assistant secretary at the planning, environment and lands branch, said the Government would look after the cathedral.
Before any redevelopment work can start, it must be approved by the director of buildings.
'Before any demolition and building plans can be approved, the director of buildings has to be satisfied that the development will not cause any damage to its neighbouring structure,' Mr Keen said.
He was not aware of any potential risks of damage to the cathedral.
To his knowledge, Cheung Kong had not yet submitted its redevelopment plans to the director of buildings for approval.
The Hilton was originally scheduled to cease operations in January after the Cheung Kong group bought out the management contract for US$125 million but the hotel has since been given a reprieve until the end of April.
The contract still had another 20 years to run when it was terminated.
Negotiations over the sites, which would double the area for redevelopment, have been held in secret.
Cheung Kong deputy chairman George Magnus failed to respond to queries.