Donald Tsang

Petition delivered in move to block high-rises at historic site

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 February, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 February, 2007, 12:00am

Central residents and district politicians yesterday petitioned the Town Planning Board with more than 1,000 signatures to make the former married police quarters in Hollywood Road available for community use instead of building two residential high-rise blocks.

They hope the 1,018 signatures will instead help to persuade the board to turn it into a park and a community centre.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen once lived there as a child with his family when his father was a police officer.

The 62,400 square metre site is on the government's land application list and developers will be permitted to build two 43-storey residential blocks there.

The Central and Western Concern Group handed out the petition in Staunton Street last week. It has already filed a rezoning application to the board. The public inspection period of the group's application ended yesterday.

Group spokeswoman Katty Law Kar-ling described the public campaign as 'encouraging'.

'We only spent two to three hours a day to collect signatures and explained our plan and the government's plan. People in this district have strong reservations about further development.'

Another group member, John Batten, said: 'We are not anti-development. The area is overdeveloped; it lacks open space. The majority of the people we talked to hope the government will keep the site and turn it into a park. Some want the existing buildings to be preserved.'

It is the group's second attempt to save the site, where granite walls and stairs belonging to the demolished Central College have been discovered.

The group's discovery, however, failed to convince the board to stop the government from releasing it for residential development.

Latest research conducted by the group showed the land was the original site of Hong Kong's first Shing Wong Temple, which was dedicated to Shing Wong, the city god. The statue of the god now resides in the nearby Man Mo Temple.

The temple was demolished in the 1880s to allow the building of the Central College, later renamed Queen's College, which is now in Causeway Bay.

The residents' group hoped the Antiquities and Monuments Office would conduct a comprehensive investigation on the historic value of the site.

Patsy Cheng Man-wah of the sustainable development advocacy group See Network, supported the rezoning. 'Any new high-rise development will further affect Central's air and traffic,' she said.

The Chief Executive Office said: 'The Town Planning Board will take into account the public views received during the public inspection period in considering the subject application.'

It said Mr Tsang would not comment on his personal preference for the site's future.

The board will discuss the residents' application in April.