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International schools

British school’s opening date unlikely as it hits planning road block

Mount Kelly International School has withdrawn its application to the Education Bureau as land use clarifications threaten to delay construction on So Kwun Wat site

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 03 August, 2016, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 05 August, 2016, 10:30am

A British boarding school’s plans to open in Hong Kong have stalled after town planning complications and the withdrawal of its school licence application.

Mount Kelly International School (MKIS), which announced in July that it planned to start operating a campus near Tuen Mun’s Gold Coast by September next year, has pulled its application from the Education Bureau while changes are made to the proposed site’s land use classification.

“Mount Kelly International School is continuing to work with the bureau towards a successful licence approval,” an MKIS spokesman said.

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The school has requested the Town Planning Board to change the site’s current classification from “open space” to “government, institution or community” in order to permit construction on the 10,600 square-foot plot of land in So Kwun Wat.

The planning authority was initially slated to discuss the change of land use at its July 29 meeting however MKIS has requested a two-month deferral of the discussion.

It’s almost impossible for the school to get all the things done before September next year
Beatrice Chu Shun-nga, district councillor

The school’s application to defer the July 29 discussion stated that it needed more time to prepare supplementary information to respond to comments received. The Town Planning Board has approved the deferral.

Construction cannot begin until the Town Planning Board has approved the change of land use.

A spokeswoman from the Education Bureau confirmed the school had withdrawn its school operator’s license on July 25.

She said to apply for licence, operators must have the planning board’s approval, certificates from the Fire Services Department and Buildings Department and government’s certificates stating that the buildings are complete, among other documents.

The school’s planning issues may have a significant impact on the eventual opening date, according to district councillor Beatrice Chu Shun-nga of the Democratic Party.

“It takes a long time for consideration on changing land use,” she said. “It’s almost impossible for the school to get all the things done before September next year.”

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Chu said she was concerned that the school, which is located near another popular boarding school, could worsen local traffic conditions because of the design of the roads and the lack of parking spaces.

She said MKIS had not included any traffic management plans in its application and that she had submitted local residents’ concerns to the planning board.

The school announced in July that it would offer 360 places to students in years one to four prior to it opening. The number of students is expected to increase to 864 by 2019 as the school introduces years five to eight, with boarding options for the older pupils.

MKIS plans to charge each pupil between HK$155,000 and HK$185,000 per year.