PUBLISHED : Friday, 31 January, 1997, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 31 January, 1997, 12:00am

The building which will symbolise - and accommodate - Britain's presence in the territory after July 1 was opened by Princess Anne yesterday.

The $290 million future consulate-general was hailed as a 'concrete demonstration' of Britain's commitment to Hong Kong.

A consul-general, who will become Britain's top official here when Governor Chris Patten departs, is still to be appointed.

After yesterday's ceremony, Senior Trade Commissioner Francis Cornish said: 'I'm not yet in a position to say whether it will be me. I will probably stay on over the transition.' The nine-storey complex, incorporating the British Council on a 6,350-square-metre site in Admiralty, was designed by British architect Terry Farrell, whose previous work includes the MI6 spy headquarters in London.

Mr Cornish said: 'It's a big place because we have big responsibilities. This is the largest consulate-general we have anywhere.' Senior representative on the Sino-British Joint Liaison Group Hugh Davies said a suggestion that the building could provide shelter to post-handover dissidents was 'extraordinary'.

He dismissed claims that some prominent people snubbed the ceremony and were distancing themselves from the British administration.