Elite school delays meeting on campus renewal plan
Dennis Chong and Joyce Ng
aced with criticism on several fronts, an elite school has postponed a meeting set for today with the Town Planning Board to allow more time for discussion about a controversial redevelopment plan.
The Hong Kong International School is facing strong opposition from parents and nearby residents over its proposed HK$980 million redevelopment at the campus in South Bay Close, Repulse Bay.
The Town Planning Board was set to discuss the redevelopment at today's meeting, and approve or reject it. The board has received dozens of submissions opposing the plan during a public consultation on the project.
In a letter to the board, the school management said they wanted a delay of no more than two months for further clarification of the project.
Parents and nearby residents are worried that the new facilities, scheduled to go into use in 2015, could worsen local traffic congestion and pollution.
Many concerns have been heard about a new 18-storey building in the redevelopment plan, according to District Councillor Fergus Fung Se-goun. Fung hosted a meeting on Tuesday for school managers and residents at South Bay Close, and said many people felt the building was too big and would attract too much traffic, leading to pollution.
HKIS head of school Kevin Dunning said yesterday the school had taken the comments raised during the meeting 'to heart', and was reviewing them. But he did not say whether a scaling down of the project was on the cards. The meeting was postponed to 'address questions raised by the community about the redevelopment', he said.
Under the current plan, the existing lower primary school will be demolished to make way for a new facility. It will include the 18-storey building with living quarters for 70 employees, an 850-seat assembly hall, gymnasium, swimming pool, and 81 parking and goods-handling spaces.
Parents have also objected to a plan to have about 500 lower primary pupils attend classes in a disused school in Chai Wan for three years during the redevelopment.
The school should not rule out the possibility of overhauling the original plan because of the strong opposition, said Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of policy watchdog Professional Commons. He has been helping Repulse Bay residents express their views on the project. He said the school should set up a channel for continuous dialogue with residents and parents, 'to ensure stakeholders are engaged in the whole process and can help resolve conflicts'.