Plans for mansion's conversion approved

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 06 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 06 June, 2009, 12:00am

The Town Planning Board yesterday approved a proposal that will turn a 77-year-old Pok Fu Lam mansion into the clubhouse of a new residential development, but there is one condition - that the clubhouse be open to the public at least once a week.

Board members said that the owners' original plan to open the Jessville mansion to the public only once a month was inadequate, but they approved the development plan and attached conditions. They said public access should be increased to once a week, on a non-working day.

Members also asked the owners to assess the effect the residential towers would have on the whole development to ensure visual harmony between the old and the new. Both requirements would be written as conditions into the planning approval obtained by the owners, a board spokesman said.

According to the owners' plan, the grade-three listed building will be converted into a clubhouse and part of it will be opened to about 50 members of the public once a month. Instead of building three or four residential towers as first planned, the owners scaled it down to two towers of 17 and 21 storeys. The latest plan also sought to ease restrictions on site coverage.

The Planning Department said it had no objection to the proposal. However, the owners would have to draw up a conservation plan for the mansion to the satisfaction of the board, and the director of leisure and cultural services.

The owners would also have to apply for a modification of the lease since the current lease only allows the building of a European house on the site, the board spokesman said.

The 77-year-old structure was declared a proposed monument in 2007 but this status was denied after the government said it had an assurance from the owners that the mansion would be kept as a clubhouse.