Retailers not ruled out for historic police station

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 March, 2007, 12:00am

The government will not ban retail businesses when it leases the former Stanley police station, a declared monument, later this year, an official source said.

Instead it will demand all interested parties submit a detailed maintenance and design plan to ensure the public will be able to appreciate the building's history.

'The government shouldn't say we want this place for this particular use,' the source said, adding the government preferred to assess each proponent's plan to choose the best one for conservation and public enjoyment of the place.

The former Stanley police station was built in 1859 and was the oldest standing station in Hong Kong. It used to house the army and the police because of its strategic position as the southernmost outpost on Hong Kong Island.

Heritage features included British-style fireplaces, chimneys, prison cells, an armoury, stone walls and wooden stairs.

During the Japanese occupation, the Japanese gendarmerie used it as its headquarters and a mortuary was added to the structure. After the war, the building reverted to a police station until 1974.

It became an upmarket restaurant before it was converted into a supermarket.

The Government Property Agency's decision to lease the monument to Wellcome upset many conservationists. They criticised the design of the supermarket because it did not match the building.

Wellcome, whose lease expires on July 31, has said it would seek to renew its lease.

The source remarked that the building had been a restaurant but then only people eating there had been able to go inside.

'The most important thing is that the public can use and appreciate the building,' he said, calling for a better display of historic features.