Lawmakers have called for a fresh-water pumping station in Central to be left where it is instead of being moved to make way for development that would result in the loss of a 150-year-old wall and almost 100 trees.
But officials, who plan to move the station to Hong Kong Park at a cost of more than HK$700 million, say leaving it in place would reduce the value of the site on Harcourt Road.
"There are many options apart from moving the station into the park. Why can't the government talk to developers and ask them to reserve space for the station?" James Tien Pei-chun, of the Liberal Party, asked.
His view was echoed by pan-democrat "Long Hair" Leung Kwok-hung. "Is it really difficult to ask developers to [keep] the station? It could save the government more than HK$700 million," he said.
But Water Supplies Department chief engineer Yeung Sek-kui said keeping the station in situ would reduce the commercial site's development potential. The views were expressed at a Legislative Council development panel meeting, where the Development Bureau sought HK$742.5 million to move the station.
Lawmakers called for more information, including the impact on land value, before they would support the project.
The 155-metre wall forms part of the boundary of Flagstaff House, a colonial monument converted into the Museum of Tea Ware. Officials pledged to reassemble the wall later.