Cheung Kong

Cheung Kong against heritage dig before demolishing walled village

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 September, 2007, 12:00am

Cheung Kong (Holdings) - owner of most of Kowloon's last walled village, which is scheduled for redevelopment - has denied government archaeologists permission to survey the site before demolition work begins.

The developer, chaired by Hong Kong's richest man Li Ka-shing, said the survey could be carried out once all residents had left Nga Tsin Wai and the houses had been demolished, the Development Bureau told the Legislative Council subcommittee on heritage conservation.

The village, in Wong Tai Sin, dates back 800 years.

Subcommittee chairwoman Choy So-yuk said Cheung Kong should allow the government access to the site to excavate it and see if any historical remains lie beneath the houses.

'Maybe they are afraid that the archaeological findings will be rich, and that this would affect its plan to redevelop the site,' she said yesterday.

She urged the government to buy out the remaining land owners in Nga Tsin Wai as soon as possible and negotiate a land swap with Cheung Kong if significant archaeological finds were made.

It is believed two cannons are buried at the entrance to the village.

Kowloon East legislator Chan Yuen-han, who has been monitoring the project, said Cheung Kong's decision not to allow the excavation was a negotiating tactic. 'It is known that Cheung Kong favours the new development proposal, which includes the building of four residential towers. It is a tactic to push the government to support the plan,' she said.

The Urban Renewal Authority has unveiled plans to turn the village into a conservation park, with four blocks of flats elevated on 15-metre platforms to be built either side of the entrance. Most of the houses would be knocked down, but the Tin Hau temple, a gatehouse and a stone tablet would be preserved.

The subcommittee will discuss the site's redevelopment on Tuesday.