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Hong Kong schools

Mount Kelly School’s bid to open primary campus in Hung Hom rejected by town planners

Town Planning Board members said there were concerns over whether pupils could have stable learning environment at site designated for retail and dining

PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Friday, 22 September, 2017, 10:39pm

Town planners have rejected a troubled British school’s application to open a primary campus in Hung Hom amid concerns over whether pupils can have a stable learning environment at a site designated for retail and dining.

The latest setback for Mount Kelly School came as pupils enrolled in the primary section were only allowed to join an induction programme at a centre in Tsim Sha Tsui while they wait for proper classes at an authorised school site.

The school, which has been embroiled in a series of controversies since it was announced a year ago that it would open in the city this September, has applied for a site of around 2,000 square metres at Cheung Kei Center in Hung Hom to accommodate 300 pupils for five years.

But the application was rejected by the Town Planning Board on Friday, meaning the school would not able to get a registration licence from the Education Bureau to begin classes and looked set to not fulfil its promise of opening in the city this month.

A source close to the board said the application was rejected because the school was not in line with the area’s planning intention, and the board did not want to set a bad precedent.

Speaking at a board committee meeting on Friday, the Planning Department said it noted that the proposed school use was not entirely in line with the original planning intention of dining, retail and office use near the water promenade in Hung Hom.

“Dining and retail facilities should be placed at the area facing the waterfront to enhance the attractiveness and vibrancy along the waterfront promenade,” senior town planner Johanna Cheng Wan-ying said.

Troubled British school Mount Kelly to begin classes in Hong Kong despite lacking approval for Hung Hom campus

While Cheng said consideration could be given to allow the school to use the site for the time being, a board member Sandy Wong Hang-yee questioned whether it was likely for the school to have to move every few years.

Mount Kelly announced in January it aimed to open three city campuses in Tsim Sha Tsui, Jordan and Hung Hom Bay after it conceded that the opening date of the original campus in Tuen Mun would be pushed back a year due to land reclassification issues.

Director Peter Kenny said back then that he anticipated approval for the three sites by the relevant government departments by late February.

A Mount Kelly spokeswoman said the rejection was “surprising”, adding the school was “very disappointed”.

She added the school had immediately activated its contingency plan with details to be announced in due course.

“In the meantime, seeing the children and families as our first priority, Mount Kelly School Hong Kong will keep close contact with them for any update,” she said.