Fresh calls to restore Queen’s Pier at original location

The government received more than 1,000 requests for the historic pier to be returned to its Edinburgh Place site

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 9:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 11:13pm

A key Harbourfront Commission member yesterday made an emotional appeal for society to stop arguing over the restoration of the historic Queen’s Pier, which was dismantled nearly a decade ago.

The call by veteran architect, Ivan Ho Man-yiu, at a meeting of the government-appointed waterfront advisory body, came after fresh opposition to the ­plan to rebuild Queen’s Pier in a space between Piers 9 and 10 in Central – with more than 1,000 submissions calling for it to be restored at its original location.

In the latest round of a two-month consultation exercise, which ended on Tuesday last week, the government received 1,058 comments from the public, of which more than 99 per cent backed the original location in front of Edinburgh Place to reflect the pier’s history.

But, a separate poll conducted during the consultation showed 52 per cent of the respondents preferred a HK$230 million plan to restore the pier between Piers 9 and 10 in Central, with minimal modification to existing structures.

Responding to the consultation results, Ho, vice-president of the Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design, said the tussle over how the historic structure should be restored had been costly to society and called for the project to proceed after a decade of arguments.

“It will never end,” Ho said. “We are wasting enough social cost dwelling on this argument.”

Ho, also a council member of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects, said there were differences even within the architects’ community over the government’s restoration plan and some had described it as “a disaster”.

“Whether or not the project will be completed to 100 per cent of anyone’s expectation is not important. The most important thing is society moves forward instead of staying in dispute forever,” Ho said.

Presenting the consultation results in the meeting, Development Bureau representatives said the government would “analyse and consider carefully the views received” with a target to produce a more detailed report next month and start restoration work next year.

Christine Au, principal assistant secretary of the harbour at the bureau, said putting the Queen’s Pier back at its original location was “impracticable”and went against past consultations.

But, Paul Zimmerman, ­another Harbourfront Commission member, said that the earlier ­consultations had not ­been conducted “fairly”.

Meanwhile, the commission chairman, Nicholas Brooke, noted views of the Antiquities Advisory Board on the restoration plan was missing and recommended the government consult the board before publishing the report.

Dating back to 1953, Queen’s Pier served as a public pier, and as a ceremonial departure and landing point for Hong Kong’s governors under the British colonial ­administration.