Minister backs new CLP plan to redevelop its HQ

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2011, 12:00am
 

The development minister has backed a revised plan by CLP Holdings to build flats on the site of its historic headquarters in Kowloon, a project that could earn the power firm HK$3 billion.

Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the plan to preserve the clock tower and demolish the rest of the art deco building, which has grade one heritage status, was the result of two years of negotiations with Michael Kadoorie, CLP's chairman.

'When it comes to preserving private heritage sites, it's a headache. We have to deal with it seriously and cannot deprive people of private property rights,' Lam said. 'We welcome the proposal because the most valuable element, the clock tower, will be preserved. The owner will use its own resources to give something back to society.'

The plan, which will be discussed by the Town Planning Board next month, involves demolishing the building in Argyle Street, Ho Man Tin, and building three 25-storey blocks above a five-storey car park.

The clock tower will house an archive of documents related to the history of the Kadoorie family and Hong Kong and a museum of electricity. Both will be open to the public.

Surveyor Pang Siu-kee estimated the redevelopment, which will produce flats totalling 300,000 square feet, could fetch HK$3 billion.

The current plan was revised from one approved in 2001 for construction of a 39-storey residential tower. While the tower is now split into three shorter ones, the plot ratio has been raised to allow for the clock tower.

CLP said the new approach protected its property rights while satisfying public aspirations for heritage conservation.

The art deco building was opened in 1940 as the power firm, led by the Kadoories, extended electricity supply for a growing Kowloon. It marked a milestone in the development of the company and the district, according to a heritage appraisal by the antiquities office.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said she respected the Kadoories' efforts in nature and heritage conservation but it seemed that by stepping into real estate the company was doing a 'side business'.

She hopes CLP will reconsider its plans so as to allow for preservation of as much of the building as possible.

Meanwhile, the owner of Cheung Chau Theatre has submitted a plan to redevelop the grade three historic building into 11 houses while preserving the facade and ticket office.

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