New groups are at odds in widening battle over future of Queen's Pier

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 May, 2007, 12:00am

The battle over the future of Queen's Pier has widened with the formation of two new groups - one dedicated to the pier's preservation and the other determined to have it stripped of its recently acquired historical status.

In one corner is the Queen's Pier Grading Concern Group, which has been set up to pressure the Antiquities Advisory Board to downgrade the pier from the Grade I historic status it was awarded two weeks.

In the other is the Professional Group for Queen's Pier's Conservation, which wants the pier to stay where it is, possibly on the shore of an artificial lake within the reclaimed land that will soon surround the former landing place of royalty and colonial governors.

Concern group convenor Yam Chi-ming, a barrister and a member of the New Century Forum, described the board's decision as 'unfair, illegal and unacceptable' and threatened to take it to court if it did not agree to downgrade the pier. He said if the board had adhered to usual voting procedures, the pier would have been given a Grade II rating.

Architect Tony Chan Siu-tung, one of about 10 architects and town planners who have formed the other group, said building an artificial lake would solve the problem of the pier becoming landlocked.

'A big artificial lake can be built, making the existing shoreline the southern edge of the lake,' he said, adding that the lake could also collect stormwater and moderate temperatures in the area.

The group aims to find a feasible solution to preserving the pier.

The antiquities board awarded the pier Grade I historic status two weeks ago in an unprecedented open meeting. But the government was quick to dismiss the importance of the grading, stressing it did not guarantee preservation.

It is likely to resubmit its funding proposal for the pier's reconstruction to the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee tomorrow. It withdrew the request hours before the board's decision when it became clear it did not have enough support to pass.

Leading solicitor and harbour protectionist Winston Chu Ka-sun has already threatened to take the government to court if it tries to pull down the pier.