Historic Pound Lane may get escalator system

Proposed link will cut walking time from the neighbourhood to Soho to just 6 minutes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 July, 2013, 5:55am

A proposal to build a second escalator system in Mid-Levels, serving the mainly residential neighbourhood of Pound Lane, has been put up for public consultation for two months.

The choice of location is as contentious as the initial proposal of Ladder Street. Opponents say both are equally historic and any works will ruin the heritage value of the area.

The escalator link is part of a government plan to divert human traffic, expected to increase with the opening of a new MTR station in a few years.

"There is very limited space for building new roads [in the Mid-Levels of Central and Western District]," the Highways Department said on its website. "The district council and local residents have requested the administration construct the second hillside escalator … to provide a comfortable and convenient route."

Mid-Levels has for years been served by a landmark set of escalators in Soho. The department intends the Pound Lane facility to serve a larger residential area with different users from the Soho link, about 15 minutes away on foot. The focus is on helping elderly people who visit Tung Wah Hospital in Sheung Wan.

The new one-way system would run along the Pound Lane section between Hollywood and Bonham roads. Comprising eight flights of covered escalators, it would cut the time taken for the sloping journey to six minutes.

The department's original idea of building the escalators on nearby Ladder Street - a grade-one historic site - met with fierce objection from residents. No construction timetable has been set. The department says the project is still under study.

Gigi Lau Wing-chi, a representative of the Pound Lane Concern Group, said the facility was uncalled for because the lane was not frequented by residents.

"I suspect this is more a plan to stimulate development potential because the government has been studying ways to lift development restrictions in Mid-Levels," she said. "If this is the real motive, I don't think it will benefit old and infirm residents because they will be driven from the neighbourhood as rents go up."

Pound Lane is viewed as a historic place because it was home to a public bathhouse when a plague broke out in the area, then known as the Tai Ping Shan district, in the 1890s.

There was also a grade-two building at nearby Hospital Road, as well as an old temple and old wall-trees along the way, Lau said.