The dismantled Queen's Pier will not be restored to the waterfront until 2018 - five years later than proposed - the government said yesterday as it suggested building a piazza exhibiting the history of the 54-year-old pier.
The pier - an arrival and departure point for governors and royalty during the colonial era and given grade-one historical status - was dismantled and stored on Lantau Island in 2008 to make way for the Central-Wan Chai Bypass.
The government originally pledged that it would be rebuilt on the reclaimed Central waterfront, by last year but no reassembly work has yet been seen.
In a paper submitted to the Harbourfront Commission yesterday, the Development Bureau said the rebuilding of the pier between the present Central piers 9 and 10 would begin in 2016 and take two years.
"The Civil Engineering and Development Department is now in the process of engaging consultants for the design and supervision of the reassembly works, and will consult the commission and the district council when the detailed design is available," the bureau said.
It said studying the technical feasibility of reassembling the pier had taken two years.
The removal of the pier sparked heated controversy, with some saying it would destroy the relationship between the pier, Edinburgh Place and City Hall, which were designed to welcome arriving governors and to host the ceremonial activities associated with their appointments.
But the government said the relocation was supported by the majority of the public and the restoration could be done a year earlier than if it were put back to its original location.
Commission chairman Nicholas Brooke said the delay in restoring the pier was unacceptable. "That's why we need a harbourfront authority [to supervise waterfront projects]," he said. "The government can do things only consecutively."
Instead, however, the bureau said yesterday a piazza of about 6,850 square metres would be built in front of City Hall, covering the pier site and part of Edinburgh Place. A shallow pond would recall the old coastline and a canopy would be built at the pier's location to house a history exhibit. Construction is expected to start late next year and be completed in early 2018.