One of the most expensive sites on The Peak is set for an astronomical makeover - instead of luxury housing, the site is to become a public venue for stargazing.
The Town Planning Board at its committee meeting yesterday decided a stargazing venue was the only feasible option of three put forward for the 1,250 square metre site on Mount Austin Road.
The others were a wedding venue and a facility promoting environmental protection and nature conservation.
The site is currently home to a government radio station staff quarters which was built in the 1950s. It has been vacant since 2006.
The government had put the site on the land application list, from which developers can trigger auctions for sites.
But it removed the site from the list last year, when it failed to get approval from the board to change the zoning from government, institution or community use to low-density residential use.
The board deemed it unsuitable for private residential development, saying it should be opened up for public use.
The Planning Department put the three options - suggested by the board - out for consultation, and the authorities involved backed the stargazing proposal.
The Observatory noted that the high altitude and good exposure at the site made it a suitable choice for astronomical observation, particularly in the southern and western directions.
However, the Home Affairs Bureau and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department said the view from the site could be affected by light along Victoria Harbour, although this would not affect viewing of the main attractions for the public - observing the sun, the moon and the planets.
Surveyor Pang Siu-kee estimated that had the site been sold for private housing it could have fetched as much as HK$300 million to HK$400 million. Pang added that the prestige associated with living on The Peak would have driven up the price.