ESF makes public plea for Island School site
Board has dropped plans to rebuild the ageing school in Quarry Bay because of the strong opposition from community and neighbours
The English Schools Foundation has made a public appeal for a "solution" to redevelop its ageing Island School after the board decided to drop a plan to rebuild it in Quarry Bay amid opposition from lawmakers and residents.
The foundation issued a statement yesterday evening making an "urgent" appeal for a suitable site for the 42-year-old Borrett Road campus, citing a decision by its board on January 29 to drop a plan to rebuild the school on Mount Parker in Quarry Bay.
The original plan faced strong opposition from the community, with critics saying it would affect greenery in the area.
Opponents also said proposed transport facilities would cause congestion and environmental problems in the middle-class neighbourhood.
Welcoming abandonment of the Quarry Bay plan, Civic Party legislator Dr Kenneth Chan Ka-lok, who represents the Hong Kong Island constituency, said it had been "poorly planned" and had failed to convince the community that the new campus would be a "win-win" situation for the public.
Another Hong Kong Island legislator, Sin Chung-kai of the Democratic Party, said the foundation should bear the responsibility for finding a new site.
"There have been many precedents for [school] redevelopment projects and there was not much [objecting] voice from the community," he said.
A foundation spokeswoman said last night that the ageing Mid-Levels campus, accommodating 1,200 students could last only seven more years. She said the ESF was also open to moving students to a temporary location while the Borrett Road campus was rebuilt on the same site, but the Education Bureau has so far offered no feasible solution for any of the options.
The foundation is in talks with the government over the future of its HK$284 million annual government subsidy amid suggestions from officials that it should eventually become a privately-run international school system.
Yesterday's statement said the foundation had had discussions with officials as well as lawmakers on how to proceed from the deadlock over the campus.
The ESF plans to spend HK$1 billion on the Island School project, for which they are seeking help from the government to finance.
The hunt for a site comes as the government struggles to find land for public housing amid calls for a balance with other sectors such as education.