Democratic Party members and academics voiced their opposition to a plan to turn the west wing of the Central Government Offices into a private office tower and a shopping mall. The government's proposal to sell the land, demolish the building, and rebuild it would threaten the area's historical value, lawmaker Kam Nai-wai said at a public forum in the Central Government Offices open space yesterday. 'There isn't a lack of shopping malls in Central, but selling the place would mean having one fewer historical site in the city,' he said. Dr Hung Wing-tat, assistant professor of Polytechnic University's civil and structural engineering department, said demolishing the building was not necessary because it could already perform the proposed duties. Katty Law Ngar-ning, of the Central and Western Concern Group, said: 'The former police married quarters in Hollywood Road will be turned into a designers' hub through an open competition. So why should this important government building be directly sold?' Government offices were for the people, who must be consulted about the buildings' use, she said. Dr Lee Ho-yin, the director of the University of Hong Kong's architectural conservation programme, said he was not opposed to privatising the building but some public space must remain. 'Every city must change from time to time. But changes should be made taking conservation into consideration,' he said. He agreed the use should be decided through an open competition, like the West Kowloon Cultural District. The government's plan calls for the west wing of the soon-to-be-vacated headquarters to be sold for a 32-storey office tower and a shopping mall. The developer would be required to turn two-thirds of the area into a public garden. A government-commissioned study by British conservation architects Michael Morrison suggested that the main and east wings be preserved, and the west wing be demolished because of low historical significance and architectural merit. An exhibition of the redevelopment proposal is being held at the Murray Road Car Park Building in Central. The department will receive views and suggestions on the proposed scheme until the end of the month.