DEVELOPMENT

Shaw studios project hits a roadblock

Planners delay approval for redevelopment amid worries it will add to traffic problems in the area which the department has yet to tackle

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 4:25am
UPDATED : Saturday, 01 November, 2014, 4:25am

Approval for the redevelopment of the 53-year-old Shaw Studios in Clear Water Bay is on hold because of concerns over much-needed roadworks nearby, town planners say.

The plan is to transform the landmark site - where late media tycoon and philanthropist Sir Run Run Shaw built his entertainment empire - into a residential-commercial project with 642 flats and 115 hostel rooms.

But the added population would put more strain on a key roundabout where Clear Water Bay, Hang Hau and Ying Yip roads met. That junction was, according to the Transport Department, already "operating close to capacity" in peak hours. Yet the department said it did not have a plan for improvement works.

"Since the government itself does not have a plan yet, how can it require the applicants to ensure the works are completed by the time residents move in?" asked director of planning Ling Kar-kan, who is also chairman of the Town Planning Board's rural and new town planning committee.

Committee member Ivan Fu Chin-shing agreed.

The committee was to have made a decision yesterday on the redevelopment plan, but postponed it after members raised concerns over whether the roadworks would be completed before the new residents moved in.

Operations at the 7.8 hectare site ceased years ago, before the studios moved to Tseung Kwan O in 2006. Its current owners are Clear Water Bay Land, Double One and Coastline International. Coastline is a subsidiary of the SCMP Group, publisher of the South China Morning Post.

They want to retain the existing 11-storey Shaw House for commercial use that will include a kindergarten, as well as the two-storey Shaw Villa, which originally served as staff quarters and is slated to provide flats.

The other buildings will be torn down for the construction of 41 residential blocks of four to eight storeys, two hostels and two commercial buildings.

Slated for demolition is an iconic, three-storey administrative building designed by Eurasian architect Eric Cumine.

The Clear Water Bay site was home to the world's largest privately owned film studios at the time of its opening in 1961.

Shaw Brothers produced more than 1,000 films on the site.

Committee member Dr Lau Chi-pang, a historian, asked about the progress of a proposal to give the studios a historic grading.

The Antiquities and Monuments Office was assessing the site's heritage value and might table a grading proposal to the Antiquities Advisory Board next month, the Planning Department's senior town planner Alice Mak Kit-fong said.

The Town Planning Board is now awaiting further information from the government on the roadworks. If the redevelopment plan gets the all-clear from the board, it will still be subject to agreement from the relevant government departments on a land-exchange arrangement.

The site includes 0.46 hectares of government land that the applicants are trying to secure. The board is expected to discuss the application again in two weeks, board spokesman Louis Kau Kin-hong said.