Potential tenants take another look at Tai Po heritage site after first bid fell flat

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 September, 2009, 12:00am

More than 30 organisations are interested in renting the Old Tai Po Police Station after its refurbishment in the second phase of the heritage revitalisation scheme.

Representatives of NGOs yesterday turned up to inspect the grade-two historic site building in Wan Tau Kok Lane, Tai Po, which was built in 1899 as the New Territories' first police quarters and main administrative centre.

Heritage advisers to the Development Bureau found no suitable candidate among 23 applications for the site last year.

They were considered during the first phase of the scheme, which offered seven government-owned heritage sites to NGOs to run as social enterprises on short-term leases.

The Boys' and Girls' Clubs Association of Hong Kong, then the only shortlisted organisation, was considering whether to try again, the group's executive director Lilian Law Suk-kwan said.

'We need to figure out how much resources we can devote to it again,' said Law, adding that its plan involved services for young people.

After being shortlisted, her association spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to prepare its proposal. But the vetting committee said the group hadn't show the plan was financially viable. The association and other applicants said the information they had been given was inadequate and they had to spend money to hire architects and surveyors as part of their preparation.

Yuen Yuen Institute, which won the right to use the historic Fong Yuen Study Hall in Tsuen Wan in the first phase of the scheme, was also interested in several sites this time, including the police station, said Tang Kam-hung, vice-chairman of the Taoist organisation.

Antiquities and Monuments Office senior heritage officer Fanny Ang Bing-hun said it was up to applicants to suggest a use for the former police buildings. The land zoning allows the site to be used for education, the arts, as a youth hostel or holiday camp.

The buildings were not used as police headquarters after the second world war and became a regional office instead. They were vacated in 2006. Some architectural features must be preserved, including the verandahs outside the main building and the staff quarters, and the flag pole at the entrance, where the British flag-raising ceremony took place to mark the official take-over of the New Territories by Britain.