Jockey Club to bid for army site

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 June, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 27 June, 1994, 12:00am

THE Royal Hong Kong Jockey Club wants to convert a Gurkha army camp in the New Territories into a horse-training facility in what could be the first deal on a military site left vacant by the withdrawing British Garrison.

The Jockey Club has expressed interest in acquiring part of the 37 hectares at Gallipoli Lines near Fanling, near their stabling facility at Beas River Country Club.

Beas River overseer Michael Tibbatts recently admitted that the Beas River paddocks were not generating as much interest with trainers as he would have hoped, a problem he said was created by lack of space.

Gallipoli Lines will be vacated by the 10th Princess Mary's Own Gurkha Rifles (10GR) in three weeks when they return to Britain under the withdrawal of British Forces from Hong Kong in the run up to 1997.

A Jockey Club spokesman confirmed they had expressed interest in the site.

''We would be interested in making a bid if it came up for auction,'' he said.

''It could be used as an additional facility to the [Beas River] Country Club - perhaps for horse training.'' However, he said no formal approaches had been made to the Government and the Sino-British talks on military sites had still to resolve their future.

The keys to Gallipoli Lines will be handed back to the Government on July 18, five days after 10GR flies to its new posting in Church Cookham near Aldershot in Hampshire, southern England. The family quarters to the north of the site will remain with the army until December.

The site includes four large grassed areas, a 600-metre firing range and a parade square surrounded by two-storey buildings used for stores, company headquarters and the transport pool.

There are numerous blocks housing single living quarters, a guardroom, a canteen, small storerooms and a swimming pool and gymnasium.

Gallipoli Lines is one of four of a total of 33 military sites to be handed back to the Hong Kong Government by the end of the year.

The Government Property Agency (GPA) has been given the job of trying to find a use for them and keeping them in good repair until the handover or until their future is settled by the Sino-British talks.

However, GPA senior property manager Alan Walker said he had received no formal offers for any of the sites and was tendering for a firm to look after them.

One firm which has confirmed it is to tender for the security contract is Jardine Securicor Gurkha Services, a company which employs former Gurkhas.

Managing director Chris Hardy said it was almost certain that if his firm won the contract, Gurkhas once based at Gallipoli Lines would return to guard it.