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Old September 18th, 2010, 05:14 AM   #1
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HONG KONG | Central Government Offices Redevelopment | 150m | 32 fl | Pro

Public consultation launched on new landscape of Central Government Offices
Friday, September 17, 2010
Government Press Release















The Development Bureau and the Planning Department today (September 17) launched a two-month public consultation exercise on the new landscape of Central Government Offices (CGO).

The CGO Complex is one of the eight projects under the "Conserving Central" initiative announced in the Chief Executive's 2009-10 Policy Address. The initiative has received broad public support.

As envisaged in the project, the Main and East Wings which are connected will be preserved for use by the Department of Justice after the relocation of the existing users to the new Central Government Complex at Tamar by end-2011. The West Wing, a standalone building built in 1959, which is of low historical significance and architectural merit, will be demolished for commercial development and to make way for an upgraded public garden in this part of Central.

Speaking on the proposed scheme, a Development Bureau spokesman said, "The proposal has four defining features: to provide more greenery; to improve pedestrian connectivity; to preserve the heritage precinct and to ensure a building design compatible with the surrounding developments in Central. We are seeking the public's views before we begin the statutory process to amend the Central District Outline Zoning Plan.

"Among the four defining features, enhanced greenery is the guiding theme," the spokesman added.

With the aim of restoring a green Central, upon demolition of the West Wing, a public open space totalling 6,800 square metres will be provided. This comprises public open space to be provided by the developer within a development site of 5,720 square metres on the western side and public open space to be provided on government land on the eastern side. This is of similar size to Statue Square.

The spokesman noted that the proposed public open space will restore the appearance of the CGO site to its condition before the existing Main, East and West Wings were built.

It will extend the greenery from Government House down to Battery Path and Ice House Street. All the existing Old and Valuable Trees on site, including a Burmese Rosewood in the central courtyard of the Main Wing, will be preserved.

The proposed new commercial building at the western end of the development site will be subject to a total gross floor area of about 42,000 square metres and a maximum building height of 150mPD (metres above Principal Datum), estimated to be about 32 storeys.

"A green facade concept with a vegetated podium will be adopted for the lower part of the new commercial building to provide visual relief at the busy junction of Queen's Road Central and Ice House Street. The public open space and its green backdrop will further enhance the setting of the surrounding monuments and historical landmarks," the spokesman added.

The public open space will be easily accessible from Queen's Road Central through Battery Path or through the new commercial building. A new landscaped footbridge to The Galleria will connect the site to the existing footbridge network in Central.

The new commercial building will be set back to facilitate the widening of Ice House Street and provide more space for pedestrians.

"We believe that the proposed scheme is a responsible act of conservation cum development, striking a good balance between meeting the continuous demand for office premises in Central and public aspirations for a quality urban environment," the spokesman said.

An exhibition of the proposed scheme, comprising displays and a model, will be held at the Planning and Infrastructure Exhibition Gallery at Murray Road Multi-storey Car Park Building in Central. The Development Bureau and the Planning Department will also consult the Legislative Council Panel on Development and the Central and Western District Council.

Details on the exhibition and the proposed scheme are available on the websites of the Development Bureau and the Planning Department at www.devb.gov.hk and www.pland.gov.hk .

Views and comments are welcome and should be sent to the Special Duties Section of the Planning Department by post (address: 15/F, North Point Government Offices, 333 Java Road, North Point, Hong Kong), by fax (2577 3075) or via email ([email protected]) by November 30, 2010.
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Old October 26th, 2010, 05:01 PM   #2
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Keep West Wing, groups urge
The Standard
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The historical value of the Central Government Offices complex will be undermined if the government demolishes the West Wing and sells it to private developers, the Civic Party and the Central and Western District Concern Group said yesterday.

Legislator Tanya Chan Suk-chong said: "The government hill where the CGO is located has high historical value, which is important for people to understand Hong Kong's past."

The groups also called for an archaeological excavation of the site as it may contain important relics.

The CGO complex is one of the eight projects under the "Conserving Central" initiative announced last year by Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen in his policy address.

Built in 1959, the West Wing itself has low historical significance and architectural merit. It will make way for commercial development and a public garden.

The Main and East Wings, which are connected, will be preserved for use by the Department of Justice.

The proposed new commercial building will be subject to a total gross floor area of about 42,000 square meters and a maximum building height of about 32 stories.
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Old November 12th, 2010, 07:41 PM   #3
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Transcript of CE's remarks at question-and-answer session of Joint Business Community Luncheon
Wednesday, November 3, 2010
Government Press Release Excerpt

Following is a transcript of remarks by the Chief Executive, Mr Donald Tsang, at the question-and-answer session of the Joint Business Community Luncheon at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre today (November 3):

Question: David for Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors Hong Kong. We represent the property profession. We welcome your new policies on housing, and particularly that you address the core problem here which is the new supply. So we would like to thank you for that. However, there is another sector where I think we have a similar problem which is the supply of grade A office space, not only our rents now, again the most expensive in the world, but it is now becoming difficult for major space users to find office space in Hong Kong, which obviously will have a knock-on effect with the employment prospects, and these are not people who want to go into converted industrial buildings in Kowloon Bay, now I am just wondering what the government policy is gonna be to ensure we have enough land for prime offices going forward.

Chief Executive: Well, the Hong Kong area is built up, particularly in the central business district, but thank you for raising this. We must have balanced development, for instance, in the redevelopment in Central area there, redevelopment of the Central Government Offices, we have already planned that we are going to preserve one whole block, the East Wing and the Main Wing of the Central Government Offices when we all move to Tamar in summer next year. But the West Wing would be converted for commercial use. This is under consultation at the moment. But some politicians are saying well, sorry we don't need it, but we should turn it into a turf and raise lambs and cattle. We must make a balance somewhere. In Central areas, we have taken away from a land sale programme the redevelopment of Central market as you know. This is being converted into something which becomes a little lung and a recreation area for the business community in Central area, and that would take away some commercial development space there. But I hope the West Wing of Central Government Offices will be the next input into the market, and that is important. The business community, the professional bodies should make your case clear. I believe there is a need for it because our business community cannot stand still, particular commercial centre, the heart of Hong Kong cannot stop upgrading itself and we must not price ourselves out of the regional business market by allowing rents to rise to impossible levels. For that reason, further input would be necessary, and we must make sure adequate supply, and I would do that. But you have to help me. Some of these development plans is open for consultation. You then express your views. Let the environmentalists express their views. Let everybody speaks up and then at the end of the day, I am sure we will get a good compromise. But I agree entirely with you now we embark on the redevelopment in any region, we must not ignore the needs of the business sector as well. We must not ignore the needs of the middle class to buy homes. We must not ignore the need of the grassroots people to have public housing. We must not ignore the needs of the business sector to have somewhere to operate the business. And we will do that. But we all have to speak up because when we try to move to Tamar, people argue that we should not go there, that should again be another park for raising cattle. And this would be another war we need to fight as well. I believe we have provided sufficient green and we are going to provide more green in Central. But we also need new office space.
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Old November 23rd, 2010, 05:21 AM   #4
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West Wing should be kept, say historians Fears over plans for Government Hill
19 November 2010
South China Morning Post

Two retired government historians say the plan to redevelop part of Government Hill for commercial use will spoil the more-than-a-century-old landscape, a leading reminder of the city's colonial history.

Dr Joseph Ting Sun-pao, former chief curator of the Museum of History, and Simon Chu Fook-keung, former director of the Government Records Service, said the Central Government Offices should be seen as an integral part of the landscape shaped by British colonisers since 1841.

They were speaking as they led a tour around the area yesterday as part of a campaign against the government's redevelopment plan, which 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 West Wing itself is an extremely functional piece of architecture, but it should be handled with caution; if the hill is removed, as in 1881 Heritage, it would be a failure," Ting said, referring to the former marine police headquarters.

"As a historian, I'd prefer to see the landscape kept intact," he said, describing it as the first town planning initiative by the British.

The historian said the British earmarked the area as "Government Hill" as early as 1841, before they officially acquired Hong Kong Island from China under the Treaty of Nanking a year later.

The site was drawn up with two streams that once ran along what are now Glenealy Road and The Peak Tramway as the boundary. The area also included St John's Cathedral, the Former French Mission Building and Government House.

Ting said the three office wings were designed in the 1950s as low-rise to preserve the harbour view from the governor's residence.

Chu said the West Wing site should be used as an archive museum to showcase important historical documents related to the city.

"Selling part of the hill would amount to [eradicating colonial traces]," Chu said during the tour, organised by pressure groups The Professional Commons and Central and Western Concern Group.

The Development Bureau announced last month that the West Wing would be put up for sale after civil servants moved to the new headquarters at Tamar at the end of next year. The developer would be required to turn two-thirds of the area into a public garden.

An exhibition of the redevelopment proposal is being staged at the Murray Road Car Park Building in Central.

The Democratic Party is organising a public forum on the proposal at the Central Government Offices open space on Sunday.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 03:38 AM   #5
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Designers oppose mall, high-rise on HQ site
Call for west wing to be preserved and development to remain in government hands

29 December 2010
South China Morning Post

A group of designers has proposed keeping at least the facade of the west wing of the government headquarters instead of demolishing the whole structure to make way for a high-rise office tower as planned.

In a proposal submitted to the government, the Institute of Urban Design asks it to keep the facade and allow additional structures to accommodate international non-governmental organisations and public exhibitions.

It also questions the need for the tower and an accompanying underground shopping mall, but says that if these go ahead the government should keep an interest in the historic site instead of handing it over completely to a private developer.

Demolition of the west wing is proposed as part of a plan for Government Hill after the headquarters moves to Tamar. The other buildings would be preserved.

"We shouldn't sell our legacy to a private developer. This is a historic asset of our city," the chairman of the institute's public affairs committee, Ivan Ho, said.

The site could be managed by the developer for 25 years and then returned to the government, he said.

"The need for the commercial office tower is questionable, as it does not add significantly to the perceived shortage of grade A offices in Central. We've already got IFC and Landmark, we don't need another shopping mall there," Ho said, adding that new offices and a mall would worsen traffic congestion. The deep excavation for the underground mall could also threaten the historic stone wall and old trees on Battery Path.

Under the Development Bureau plan put out for public consultation, which ends on Friday, the central and east wings will be preserved while the west wing will be replaced by a 32-storey commercial block with an underground shopping mall and car park. Two-thirds of the west wing site is proposed as a public garden, a size similar to Statue Square.

The plan has drawn opposition from critics, including historians who saying the entire Government Hill should be preserved intact.

The three government offices, built in the functionalist architectural style, were deliberately designed in the 1950s as low-rise to preserve the harbour view from Government House. The combination of the offices, Government House, St John's Cathedral and the French Mission Building gave rise to the name of Government Hill as early as 1842.

"The buildings in simple and functional style were deemed very modern in the 1950s, when streets were filled with tenement blocks and buildings that were full of decorative features," the institute's president, Bernard Lim Wan-fung, said.

The design of the new tower, with curtain walls, and a mall for luxury brands was incompatible with the historic ambience of Government Hill. "We don't mind adding extra structure to the existing facade, but it should look harmonious with the surrounding history," he said, adding that the west wing entrance should be kept as a link to the past.

The institute urges the bureau to introduce civic uses into the revitalised west wing, including offices for international civic organisations such as the Asian Development Bank, Unesco, humanitarian organisations, cultural councils and the Red Cross, to enhance the city's international image. It also calls for space to exhibit the history of Government Hill and promote international trade and culture.

Lim said the best way to protect the district would be to rezone it into a special protection area and govern its planning with a set of design guidelines, to ensure the area was planned with careful pedestrian links to other historic blocks and not dwarfed by tall buildings

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan said she would prefer to see the whole west wing retained but agreed the government should keep ownership of the site and that the space should be returned to the community. "Details should be studied carefully so as to ensure the public access under the public-private management model," she said.

Central and Western Concern Group member John Batten said the institute's proposal merely appeared to "appease" the government. "The institute correctly identifies all the reasons why this site should not be sold: the important historic integrity of the site; the present lush green setting{hellip} It appears to strongly favour a minimal-impact position. However, its [fašade-keeping] proposals do not fit into its arguments and reasons for not selling the site."

Other groups also have reservations about demolition of the west wing for commercial use. The Institute of Architects said the 1959 block was a fine example of a "climbing building" on a natural sloping terrain with varying floor plans on each level. The west wing was one of the few buildings with such characteristics.

It also said officials should provide the public with actual figures of potential revenue for consideration, if they claim financial pressure is a reason for the office development.

It suggested the government study the missing option of keeping the west wing. "The public needs to debate the two [redevelopment and preservation] schemes with financial and cultural merits of both schemes made available," the architects' group said in a position paper presented to lawmakers earlier.

An alliance of 14 NGOs also objected to demolition, saying redevelopment would generate construction waste while endangering trees and historic integrity. It urged the government to extend the three-month consultation to one year.

The bureau said it would consider all views given in the consultation.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 07:05 AM   #6
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All they want is to preserve and look backwards. There's no desire to redevelop and move forward. Now they won't even agree to balance the two.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 06:08 PM   #7
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RICS: Central Critically Needs Commercial Office Supply

HONG KONG, Jan. 3, 2011 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- In a number of surveys conducted by RICS member firms, Hong Kong's commercial property prices have risen to an alarming level.﹛We have the most expensive office market in the world, and according to RICS Global Property Survey (Q3), respondents are expecting rents to rise further in 2011, while availability is now decreasing at the fastest pace since 2007.

From 1995 to 2009, the average office take up rate was about 1.8 million sq ft, and in 2011, the market can only expect a supply of just under 1 million sq ft, which is the lowest in the past 3 years.﹛The lack of land supply is the driving force behind the high prices, which already has a negative impact on Hong Kong's competitiveness.

RICS is, although in support of the government's initiative in the redevelopment of the Central Government Offices, of the view that the additional 420,000 sq ft of commercial office space is only a short term measure in addressing Hong Kong's critically lacking of office supply, but not a long term fix to the problem.﹛A proposal has been sent to the Chief Executive recommending the establishment of a cross-department steering committee in formulating a long-term land supply strategy to stabilize the commercial property market.

Mr. Nigel Smith, Chairman of Commercial Property Professional Group Committee of RICS Hong Kong commented,

"In summary of all the facts and data, there is simply not enough land supply for commercial property development. In the eyes of multinational corporations who wish to set up its Asia office, Hong Kong is not very attractive, and our members are also finding it difficult to help their clients find large enough floor spaces to expand their local operations."

The proposed steering committee should also invite representatives from different professional institutions, business organizations and academics in formulating a long-term approach in land development, so that there will be a stable and sustainable land supply for commercial property. This will show to the international community that the Hong Kong government has a commitment in curbing the unhealthy high property prices, and will help improve Hong Kong's competitiveness.
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Old February 10th, 2011, 07:05 PM   #8
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West Wing warning after poll by party
The Standard
Wednesday, February 09, 2011

The Civic Party has warned the administration not to risk its credibility by allowing commercial development of the West Wing on Government Hill.

Its poll of 1,130 people found that 73 percent of respondents want the government to put the soon-to-be-vacant buildings in Central to public use.

Only 13 percent support the idea of commercial development, the telephone survey from January 19 to February 2 found. Some 61 percent of those polled said it is important to maintain the integrity of Government Hill.

Party vice-chairman Albert Lai Kwong-tak said: "The government thinks only a minority of people oppose the plan. But our findings show more than 70 percent of people want to save it for public use.

"I hope the authorities can respect public opinion and call off the plan."

The Development Bureau proposed that the West Wing be put up for sale after civil servants move to the new headquarters at Tamar at the end of the year. The plan is to redevelop one-third of the West Wing site into an office tower and the remaining two-thirds into a public open space.

Lai said: "The Government Hill redevelopment project not only revolves around the conservation of historic buildings, but also possible long-term impact on air quality and traffic flow in Central."

Lawmaker and Central and Western District councillor Tanya Chan Suk-chong said the government has yet to analyze how the redeveloped tower would affect traffic.
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Old February 21st, 2011, 03:46 PM   #9
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Group urges rethink on Government Hill site plan
16 February 2011
SCMP

An alliance of 20 heritage protection groups and former government officials is calling for the Government Hill plan to be reconsidered and more options made available.

They submitted a proposal to the Town Planning Board opposing the sale of Government Hill for commercial development and suggesting the Central site be rezoned as a "heritage precinct". Alternatively, they want it returned to "government, institutions and community uses".

The submission will be available for public comment from February 25 for three weeks.

Katty Law Ngar-ning, convenor of the Central and Western Concern Group and member of the newly formed Government Hill Concern Group, said the proposal aimed to put two more options on the table. "The government has so far presented only one option for Government Hill, which is to demolish the west wing and sell the site to a developer. It has given no alternatives," Law said.

The group said government officials gave an inadequate introduction to the Town Planning Board in November, when they got the board to rezone the site from government and community use to a "comprehensive development area", allowing construction of a new office tower. It said the government submission put to the board was only seven pages long, with attachments.

The government paper made brief reference to an appraisal by a consultant, who said reuse of the west wing was feasible and redevelopment desirable only if the government was under financial pressure.

The concern group's submission is the latest bid to oppose the government's plan to replace the west wing of the Central Government Offices with a 32-storey commercial block and an underground mall. The west wing is one of three low-rise 1950s office buildings designed to preserve the harbour view from Government House. The combination of the offices, Government House, St John's Cathedral and the French Mission Building gave rise to the name of Government Hill as early as 1842.

In its submission, the group said the site was more significant than the buildings in heritage terms and priority should be given to preserve the site. It said the buildings were in good condition and could continue to be used as offices for many years.

It suggested rezoning the site into a heritage precinct, which would prohibit demolition of the buildings. Its second option is to rezone the site for government and community use, which would prohibit any sale of part of the site and limit new buildings to the scale of those replaced.

Law said the group would table its proposal to Central and Western District Council, the Legislative Council and the Antiquities Advisory Board for discussion.

The concern group includes Designing Hong Kong, the Conservancy Association, the Society for the Protection of the Harbour, and the Professional Commons. It is supported by some retired government officials.
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Old March 19th, 2011, 06:58 PM   #10
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Government Hill going same way as Star Ferry
10 March 2011
South China Morning Post

Remember the controversy over the Star Ferry pier? Apparently government planners do not. Just over four years have passed since the tearing down of the pier at Edinburgh Place amid angry protests about a lack of regard for conservation - and still the administration is pushing ahead with plans to reshape historic Government Hill with a 32-storey office block and a shopping mall. What is now a tranquil oasis in the business district will be turned into yet more glass and concrete, glitz and glamour, frenzy and bustle. It is as if the passion behind those demonstrations and Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen's repeated pledges for a change of tack never happened.

Just as with the Star Ferry pier, there is nothing remarkable about the building at the crux of the proposal, the west wing of the Central Government Offices. Built in 1959, it is best described architecturally as functional. However, what it lacks in style, it and the area of which it is part, amply make up for in history, location and serenity. To put yet more offices and shops in so valuable a part of Hong Kong is to disregard the sentiment expressed so vocally not that long ago.

Historically, the area was the site of the first town planning initiative by the British colonial government. It was earmarked for official buildings in 1841, the year before Hong Kong was officially ceded to Britain under the Treaty of Nanking. Within the zone are Government House, St John's Cathedral and the former French Mission, all declared monuments. So much history and importance to our development requires preservation, and that is exactly what successive governments have ensured.

The three wings of the government offices have been deliberately built low-rise to maintain views of the harbour from Government House. Studding the hill and lining pathways is greenery that is scant elsewhere in Central. On a sultry summer's day, it is an idyllic lunchtime escape from the baking concrete and steel elsewhere in the district. Such a rarity should be cherished.

Yet keeping character and public use are not on the cards when the west wing is vacated at the end of the year for the new government headquarters at Tamar. The government is adamant about rezoning the site for commercial use, on which the Town Planning Board will soon decide. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his budget speech that demolition would go ahead on schedule and it would be put on sale. There has been a public consultation and objections from a host of groups and hundreds of individuals, but the authorities do not seem to be listening.

This is not acceptable - not anytime, and certainly not after the Star Ferry protests and subsequent promises. Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in unveiling an ambitious "conserving Central" scheme in his 2009 policy address, heralded what was supposed to be a changed mentality towards conservation and heritage. He spoke of "respect for the history of the district", its "precious assets" and the need to "create attractions" for public enjoyment. Those sentiments apply precisely to Government Hill, yet are being ignored in pushing the redevelopment plan.

There is structurally nothing wrong with the west wing building. Rather than unnecessarily creating more construction waste, it should be preserved and put to another public use, perhaps with an historic flavour. Rezoning the area so that the site can be sold is wrong. It has to be for the people to enjoy - not just another excuse to build on bulging government coffers and pour concrete.
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Old March 25th, 2011, 10:16 AM   #11
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Congregation members hit out over plan for high-rise
21 March 2011
South China Morning Post

Senior members of the St John's Cathedral congregation have individually spoken out against the government plan's to build a high-rise on the edge of Government Hill beside the site of the cathedral.

They fear excavation and construction will degrade the surroundings of the cathedral and undermine its foundations, and that the noise will disturb church services and the area's tranquillity.

"There is too much crowded development in Central. Another high-rise here will prevent polluted air from dissipating and will worsen the canyon effect," a trustee of the cathedral, Eric Bohm, said.

Responding to questions from the South China Morning Post yesterday, Bohm, chief executive of the environmental group WWF Hong Kong, said he was concerned that the area would be swamped with tall buildings. "The best thing to do would be to turn the entire space into a green park. Otherwise, please scale down the new development," he said.

Barrister Edward Laskey, a member of the cathedral choir, said any development should be sympathetic to the spiritual as well as physical stability of the church. "People come to enjoy the restful atmosphere, whether or not they are Christians or Anglican Christians."

The government has toughened its stance on the redevelopment plan. Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced in his budget speech that the land sale of the west wing of the Central Government Offices would go ahead, without disclosing results of a public consultation on the redevelopment proposal.

Tsang wooed business-sector support at an office supply seminar this month, emphasising that office land in Central continued to be in keen demand although new office hubs were being set up in Kowloon.

The grouping of the government offices, Government House, St John's Cathedral and the French Mission Building gave rise to the name Government Hill as early as 1842.

The government proposes that the west wing, one of three low-rise buildings designed in the 1950s to preserve the harbour view from Government House, be replaced with a 32-storey office block that would yield 42,000 square metres of floor space and an underground car park.

While historians, urban planners and conservation groups have campaigned against the project for months, the Anglican Church, which is negotiating with the government a plot ratio transfer for its redevelopment of the Sheng Kung Hui compound, also in Central, has so far taken a less critical stance.

Officially, it has only expressed concerns about potential blocking of an access road. Bohm said the church had written to the government on this. "It will be difficult for trucks to come by, especially when there are activities and funerals going on."

Gordon Jones, former registrar of companies and a congregation member since 1973, has written to the Town Planning Board to support the Government Hill Concern Group's proposal to rezone the area as a heritage precinct. The matter will be discussed by the board on May 6. The group has gathered about 200 supporting signatures from church members and 2,000 from the public.

Jones said of Government Hill: "[It's] a rare collection of ecclesiastical and government buildings which have been in virtually continuous use since the founding of Hong Kong." It was unique and had to be respected. He criticised the plan to sell the land to a developer to build offices as "very ill-conceived", saying the site should remain in public ownership.

He challenged the claim that the project would help address the shortage of grade A office space, arguing that new office accommodation should be decentralised to Kai Tak, Kwun Tong, North Point and Tsuen Wan to help urban renewal.

Jones was also worried that excavation near the cathedral, a declared monument built in 1849, would degrade the environment and affect the cathedral's foundations and stability.

"I consider it essential that before any development proceeds, the government undertake at its own expense, with full involvement of the relevant members of the cathedral, a number of whom have the relevant professional and technical expertise, a comprehensive structural and geotechnical assessment," he said.
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Old November 10th, 2011, 04:50 PM   #12
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Revitalize Central with a sense of history
The Standard
Monday, July 04, 2011

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen, in his annual policy address two years ago, outlined plans to re-energize Central under an eight-project initiative titled Conserving Central.

The revitalization package includes projects involving the Central Ferry Piers, Central Market, the Central Police Station and the Central Government Offices. The last mentioned has lately sparked some debate and provides some interesting insights into how heritage preservation in our city is carried out.

The Main and East Wings of the CGO compound have been deemed of architectural interest and will thus be preserved for use by the Department of Justice after the existing users relocate to their new offices at Tamar by year's end.

The West Wing - built in 1959 - has, however, been recommended for demolition and redevelopment for commercial use. The plans includes a shopping mall, office tower, dining facilities, a public garden and a parking lot.

The Murray Building nearby has also been vetted for conversion into a hotel through open tender.

It is important to note, however, that historical value cannot be preserved in parts.

It is difficult to designate certain areas of a site for preservation and others for sale to private developers, who will inevitably design with profitability in mind over all else.

Even though the West Wing may have less historical and architectural significance, it is the overall landscape and atmosphere of the area that deserves protection. Selling part of the hill would amount to erasing part of a colonial legacy.

If the government's argument is the need for commercial office towers, then that in itself is questionable - as the West Wing will not add greatly to the so-called shortage of grade A offices in Central. Moreover, the building of another shopping mall would only worsen existing traffic congestion troubles.

The deep excavation would likewise threaten the historic stone wall and old trees along Battery Path. The present lush green settings, the integrity of the site and the rare collection of low-rise buildings that also allow free flow of air should be enough to mark the site as a heritage precinct, or at least merit a rezoning of the site for government and community use.

The government has the capital, power and ability to value, protect and preserve our city but it must first respect the history of the district and realize what precious assets we have at hand.

Hong Kong Art Vanguard Association members - architect Nicholas Ho and art historian Stephanie Poon - don't always see eye to eye.
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Old November 15th, 2011, 06:57 PM   #13
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SDEV speaks on proposed redevelopment scheme for West Wing of Central Government Offices
Tuesday, November 15, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is the transcript of remarks (English portion) by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, at a media session after attending the opening ceremony of MIPIM Asia 2011 today (November 15) on the proposed redevelopment scheme for the West Wing of the Central Government Offices:

Reporter: Given that the Hong Kong Stock Exchange and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) will take up two-thirds of the place, would it actually lower the interest of developers as these spaces would not be rented out to other people? And, why do you want to use a two-envelope system for the land tender?

Secretary for Development: This land tender will be very unusual and very exceptional because of its particular circumstances and the need to respond fully to the public comments that we have received. Whether this sort of restriction and this nominated anchor tenant approach will affect the interest of developers, it is difficult to say. But there are two important facts. One is this is still a very prime site in Central, which normally will be sought after by developers. Secondly, this is a very good investment because we are not saying that the developer cannot collect market rent despite the nomination of anchor tenants. If the two organisations, i.e. SFC and Hong Kong Stock Exchange, agree to move in, they still have to pay market rental to the landlord. So it does not really affect the ability to generate profits. But it does mean that there will be more constraints in the development of this particular site.

As to why we have chosen to use a two-envelope system, this is also because we realised that there is public expectation that given the site's character and the vicinity, for example we have the Court of Final Appeal Building, St John's Cathedral, the Main Wing and the East Wing which we ourselves will preserve, so we attach a lot of importance to the design of the new building, the fašade treatment, the use of material, the colour and so on. So we have decided that we would accord attention to the design elements. A two-envelope system would enable us to assess both the price offered by the developers as well as the design offered by the developers before we make up our mind on the award of this particular land tender.
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Old November 22nd, 2011, 09:59 AM   #14
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Shopping mall scrapped in new West Wing plan
The Standard
Wednesday, November 16, 2011

In a stunning concession, the government has scrapped plans for a mega mall at the Central Government Offices site but will go ahead with redeveloping the West Wing to a 32-story office and commercial building.

The changes, which will also expand leisure areas by 10 percent, were made after a public consultation on the development on Government Hill.

The top 26 floors - with floor area of 28,500 square meters - of the new high rise will provide Grade A office space for financial services.

The government will invite the Hong Kong stock exchange and Securities and Futures Commission to be key tenants.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor yesterday admitted the site's market value may decline because of redevelopment constraints.

In the original scheme, 13,500 sq m were reserved for a mega shopping mall. This was scrapped, with only 2,000 sqm now for commercial development. Lam said the offer to the stock exchange and SFC is not intervening in their operations and if they agree to move in, they still have to pay market rental rates to the landlord.

"So it does not really affect the ability to generate profits," she said.

To minimize potentially increased traffic flow, car parking spaces will be cut from 164 to 93. And to get a coherent design with the preserved building on the site, the external design should adopt a similar style to that of the Main Wing.

"This is still a very prime site in Central, which normally would be sought after by developers. It is unavoidable that the value will be affected," Lam said.

"Developers will be cautious when deciding the tender price because of the constraints."

A Development Bureau spokesman said most of the views received during the public consultation from September to December last year did not support the proposed shopping center.

"They considered that there were already too many malls in Central."

The spokesman said authorities had not estimated how much less the site will sell for. Surveyor Lawrence Li Yung- sau, however, believes the land's value will drop 20 to 30 percent, or by HK$2 to HK$3 billion.

"Without the constraints, the land value could be up to HK$12 billion," Li said.

But he said the West Wing would still be attractive to developers because of the high demand for Grade A office space in Central.

Public open space after redevelopment will also be increased from 6,800 sq m to 7,600 sq m. It will be managed and maintained by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department.

The government does not have a timetable for project completion.

Tender is expected to be called in 2013, but Lam said the government will adopt a two-development system where both tender price and the project's design will be considered.

Meanwhile, Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan Suk-chong described the concession as too little to be acceptable.

"It is already wrong that the government would demolish the West Wing and sell the land," she said, criticizing the government for ignoring the views of conservationists.
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Old November 26th, 2011, 04:13 PM   #15
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Expert Panel to undertake grading of Central Government Offices
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Government Press Release

In response to media enquiries regarding the discussion by the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) yesterday (November 23) on grading of the West Wing of Central Government Offices (CGO), a spokesman for the Antiquities and Monuments Office today (November 24) said that AAB agreed yesterday that although the three buildings of CGO (Main Wing, East Wing and West Wing) were newly raised items, rather than items on the list of 1,444 historic buildings being processed with the help of the Expert Panel of the AAB, assessment of their grading could be accorded with priority.

"With reference to the advice of members of the AAB, the Expert Panel will grade the three buildings of CGO at the same time. The AAB agreed to let the Expert Panel study and recommend whether to follow the usual practice of according individual grading to the three buildings. However, the final decision of grading will rest with the AAB. The Chairman of the AAB, Mr Bernard Chan, has already made the relevant clarification in a radio programme today," said the spokesman.
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Old December 22nd, 2011, 09:08 AM   #16
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LCQ13: Redevelopment scheme for the West Wing of Central Government Offices
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Government Press Release

Following is a question by the Hon Kam Nai-wai and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (December 21):

Question:

Regarding the proposed redevelopment scheme for the West Wing of Central Government Offices (the redevelopment scheme), the Government intends to adopt a "two-envelope" tendering approach to develop the project which will provide an office tower with a financial theme, public open space (POS) and facilities for government institution and community (GIC) and ancillary office uses. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the situation under which the authorities will consider adopting the "two-envelope" tendering approach for development projects involving land sales; the criteria, guidelines and conditions to be complied with; the respective weightings accorded to the price and the technical and design aspects in assessing the tender proposals; the assessment mechanism concerned; as well as the number of such cases in the past 10 years, together with the specific situations and the results concerned;

(b) why the "two-envelope" tendering approach is to be adopted for the redevelopment scheme; of the weightings to be accorded to the price and the technical and design aspects in assessing the tender proposals; the assessment criteria concerned; the formation and composition of the assessment panel; the expected number of bidders; and whether developers which previously designed and developed commercial buildings and POS at locations near the site for the redevelopment project will have an advantage over other bidders in terms of geographical knowledge, information access and experience;

(c) of the advice given by the Independent Commission Against Corruption on the authorities' plan to adopt the "two-envelope" tendering approach for the redevelopment scheme; how the authorities ensure that the tendering process will be conducted in a highly transparent manner and that all bidders will have equal access to information and opportunities;

(d) among the 40,300 square metres of gross floor area (GFA) to be provided under the revised redevelopment scheme, of the floor area which has been reserved for use by public and statutory bodies, government and community facilities, as well as the percentage of such area in the GFA; whether the public and statutory bodies using the floor area of government and community facilities have to pay rental at the level of Grade A offices; and how the authorities ensure that the rents for the offices concerned and facilities for ancillary office uses are set at affordable levels for these public and statutory bodies;

(e) of the sizes of the loading/unloading area and the carpark to be provided under the revised redevelopment scheme; whether the carpark to be provided within the site of the POS will be owned and managed by the Government as in the case of the POS; and whether the land title or ownership of the carpark will belong to the Government or the developer concerned; among the proposed 40,300 square metres of GFA to be provided, of the floor areas (square metres) and percentages to be owned and managed by the developer and the Government respectively; and

(f) whether the authorities have considered further revising the entire redevelopment scheme and not selling the land concerned in order to preserve the entire piece of land as government land forming an integral part of the "Government Hill", so that apart from the provision of POS, the future office tower will only be used for the provision of GIC facilities, and the Government will allocate and lease out the offices to public or statutory bodies related to monetary and financial matters, human rights and the rule of law (eg the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the Securities and Futures Commission, the Financial Reporting Council, the Investor Education Council, the Financial Dispute Resolution Centre, the Equal Opportunities Commission, the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data, Office of The Ombudsman, the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, the Legal Aid Services Council and the Law Reform Commission of Hong Kong, etc) to dovetail with the objectives set out in the proposals of the revised redevelopment scheme, and help raise Hong Kong's image and status as an international financial and legal services hub?

Reply:

President,

The Central Government Offices (CGO) is one of the eight major "Conserving Central" projects. On its own initiative, the HKSAR Government has proposed to comprehensively preserve CGO's Main and East Wings and fully consult the public on the redevelopment scheme for the West Wing (the redevelopment scheme). Taking into account the major concerns raised by the public during the consultation period last year, namely, that the new public open space should be owned and managed by the Government to ensure public enjoyment of the site; that the proposed shopping centre under the original plan is not supported as there are already a lot of shopping malls in Central; and that traffic problems in the area should not be aggravated by the redevelopment, we have made positive responses and appropriate adjustments.

In the revised redevelopment scheme for the West Wing, the size of the lobby of the office tower at the Lower Albert Road level will be reduced, resulting in an increase of about 11% in the size of the public open space (POS) within the development from the original 6,800 square metres to 7,600 square metres. The new POS will be under the Government's ownership and management. The gross floor area (GFA) of the originally proposed commercial shopping centre in the portion below Lower Albert Road level will be significantly reduced to about 2,000 square metres in order to release more space for government institution and community (GIC) facilities and ancillary office uses.

Without the shopping centre, the traffic arising from the redevelopment will be less than that in the original proposal. Based on the latest preliminary traffic assessment, the redevelopment scheme will not have any significant traffic impacts on the major roads in the area.

The revised redevelopment scheme will maintain the theme of "Restoring Green Central" of the original proposal. As Battery Path and the slopes on its two sides are not in the redevelopment area, the POS will play an important role of allowing the greenery from Government House to extend to Queen's Road Central and Ice House Street through Battery Path. We believe that the revised redevelopment scheme has struck a proper balance between development and conservation needs, and adequately responded to the concerns raised by different sectors of the community during the public consultation period. The proposal is in the best interests of Hong Kong.

My reply to the six parts of the question is as follows:

(a) According to the Stores and Procurement Regulations, for contracts where the quality of service or product is of paramount importance and needs to be taken into account in the tender evaluation, departments may consider adopting a "marking scheme", commonly known as the "two-envelope" approach, when inviting tender. Under the "two-envelope" approach, the assessments of non-price and price aspects must be conducted separately, and tenderers are required to submit the non-price and price information in separate envelopes. The "two-envelope" approach is more commonly adopted in tenders for works projects and service procurement.

For revenue contracts (including contracts involving land sales), it is not a common practice to adopt the "two-envelope" tendering approach. Therefore, the Government has not set any guidelines for weightings accorded to non-price and price aspects, criteria, conditions and assessment mechanism for this kind of contracts. Among the contracts involving land sales awarded in the past 10 years, the only case that adopted the "two-envelope" tendering approach was the land sale contract for the monument site of the former Marine Police Headquarters in Tsim Sha Tsui (Kowloon Inland Lot No. 11161). The weightings accorded to the non-price and price aspects for that contract was 75:25.

(b) and (c) We propose to adopt the "two-envelope" tendering approach for the redevelopment scheme for the West Wing of Central Government Offices solely for the purpose of ensuring that the quality of the design and technical proposals are commensurate with the site's significance and comply with the relevant requirements in the Planning Brief of this "Comprehensive Development Area" site, and that consideration will not be exclusively on tender price.

Since the redevelopment scheme will involve town planning procedures such as amendments to outline zoning plans, we estimate that tenders will not be invited until 2013. At present, the Government has not yet commenced the process of tender preparation or formulated the criteria and mechanism for tender assessment. We do not consider it appropriate to speculate about the likely market response to the tender invitation. But in due course, we will consider and formulate the relevant criteria and mechanism in accordance with our long-held principles.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption has approached the Development Bureau on its readiness to provide anti-corruption advice for the "two-envelope" tendering approach for the sale of redevelopment sites. We welcome the assistance offered by the Commission and will work closely with the Commission when we start work on drawing up the tender documents so as to ensure that the tendering arrangements will be fair and just.

(d) Among the floor space below the Lower Albert Road level which will be for GIC facilities and ancillary office uses, about 3,800 square metres, or 9.4% of the total GFA of 40,300 square metres under the revised redevelopment scheme, will be earmarked for local, regional and/or international organisations. The Government will consider at a later juncture the specific allocation criteria and rental levels for these government-owned floor space, but our premise is that the presence of these organisations in Hong Kong, and in Central in particular, would complement the presence of the Department of Justice in the Main and East Wings and the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) and Hong Kong Exchanges and Clearing Limited (HKEx) in the office tower, and help raise Hong Kong's image and status as an international financial and legal services hub.

(e) Under the revised redevelopment scheme, the proposed loading/unloading and carpark level will be located beneath the POS. Subject to detailed design, the GFA of that level will be about 4,500 square metres, and a certain portion may have to be reserved for allowing natural light to penetrate to the lower floors through the skylight in the POS. According to the existing design, that loading/unloading and carpark level will be owned and managed by the developer, but it will be required to provide a vehicular access on that level to connect Lower Albert Road with St. John's Cathedral and the Former French Mission Building.

Under the existing design, all floor areas of the office tower above Lower Albert Road level (about 28,500 square metres or approximately 70.7% of the total GFA in the revised redevelopment scheme), including the portion to be leased out to the SFC and HKEx for office uses, will be owned and managed by the developer. The Government will retain the ownership and management right of the entire POS (about 7,600 square metres) at Lower Albert Road level. For the portion below Lower Albert Road level for GIC facilities and ancillary office uses, apart from some 3,800 square metres earmarked for GIC facilities which will be owned by the Government, the remaining floor space (including lobby, circulation area, ancillary offices and commercial floor space) of about 8,000 square metres (about 20% of the total GFA in the revised redevelopment scheme) will be owned and managed by the developer.

(f) According to information from the Rating and Valuation Department, the vacancy rate of office space is 5.2% in Central and 8% territory-wide in 2010. It can thus be seen that there is a strong demand for office space in the Central district. The study findings of the Hong Kong 2030: Planning Vision and Strategy also show that demand for Grade A offices in the Central Business District will outpace supply. The redevelopment scheme can increase the supply of quality Grade A offices in Central. The existing offices of some public organisations or statutory bodies, such as the Equal Opportunities Commission and Consumer Council, are not located in Central. Their relocation to the West Wing will not help ease the shortage of Grade A office space in Central and does not dovetail with the redevelopment's theme of financial and legal services.
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Old June 14th, 2012, 11:55 AM   #17
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D-day attack on West Wing razing
The Standard
Wednesday, June 06, 2012

A concern group has slammed the government for not coming up with a plan to save the West Wing of its former head office ahead of next week's decisive meeting of the heritage board.

It also accused the government of violating its own heritage protection policies.

The government decided in 2009 that the West Wing, built in 1959, should be demolished and sold to a property developer to build a 32-story commercial tower.

The former SAR government headquarters comprises three wings that were built at different times. Conservationists believe the west, main and east wings should be viewed collectively because of their historical value.

"The proposed demolition of the West Wing will definitely destroy the heritage value of the three buildings," Government Hill Concern Group convener Katty Law Ngar- ning said.

"They should be seen as a whole.

"Government Hill is not just the property of the government. It is also a public asset and a historical heritage.

"There is no reason for the government to sell it unless there is political pressure or a previous agreement with developers."

Law said the West Wing should be reopened to the public, just like in pre-handover times.

Central and Western District councillor Cheng Lai-king said the government has already demolished several historic landmarks such as the Star Ferry and Queen's piers.

Development Secretary Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor, he added, only dares to demolish historic sites but has not the courage to preserve them.

The concern group has urged Unesco to step into the fray to protect the site, including the West Wing, through issuing a "heritage alert."

Architect Louis Lor Hing-hung, a member of the Historical Building Assessment Expert Panel, said: "From the historical context, Government Hill is an organic whole. Every part is interrelated and should not be separated."

A Development Bureau spokeswoman said the government has no intention of going back on its plan to demolish the West Wing.
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Old June 16th, 2012, 05:28 AM   #18
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West Wing makes way for office tower
The Standard
Friday, June 15, 2012



It's final - the West Wing of the old government headquarters will come down and be replaced by a 32-story office tower for financial institutions and lawyers.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor sealed the fate of the building yesterday just hours before the Antiquities Advisory Board upgraded the heritage value of the West Wing from Grade 3 to Grade 2.

Lam insisted the redevelopment is necessary but that the government will retain the site's ownership in what she calls the "ultimate plan."

She said the government will adopt a build-operate-transfer model. This means the government will invite a developer, who will be allowed to rent out the redeveloped building for profit before returning the site to the government 30 years later.

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"This view of not parting with the ownership, to prevent worries about property hegemony, has been expressed quite vocally by some people," Lam said. "So instead of doing a land sale ... we are now going for something which is very exceptional in terms of property development by the government. And that is a build-operate-transfer contract."

Tendering begins in the first half of next year.

Later in the day, the Antiquities Advisory Board decided at a meeting that the West Wing should be given a Grade 2 status, instead of the lowest Grade 3 suggested by an expert panel.

The East Wing moves up to Grade 1 status instead of the suggested Grade 2. The board agreed that the main wing and the whole site are Grade 1. The board will carry out a public consultation on the ratings.

Board chairman Bernard Charnwut Chan said, however, that the final decision of what to do with the West Wing remains in the hands of the government. This is because the grades are not statutory. But he believes that the West Wing should be renovated instead of redeveloped.
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Old July 22nd, 2012, 12:02 PM   #19
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Chan to stay on as antiquities chief
The Standard
Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In an apparent U-turn, Bernard Charnwut Chan has decided to stay on as chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board until his term finishes at the end of this year.

The change of heart came after Chan said last week that he decided to quit following allegations he colluded with officials so that the West Wing of the former Central Government Offices could be demolished.

Three other board members - Lau Chi-pang, Lee Ho-yin and Andrew Lam Siu-lo - earlier said that they too would quit if Chan insisted on leaving.

Chan last night said that he changed his mind because he did not want his resignation to trigger the leaving of three board members.

He is also worried that the board will be criticized again when it has to cast the final vote to decide on the final heritage status of the West Wing.

The three other members will stay on until the end of their terms as well, Chan said.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 01:32 AM   #20
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West Wing set for status quo
The Standard
Monday, November 05, 2012

The West Wing redevelopment plan for the old government headquarters may now be scrapped, with the Antiquities Advisory Board poised to likely rate it a Grade 1 historic buidling.

The revised rating, expected next month, will come after a public consultation showed more than 90 percent of locals support the idea that "every effort should be made to preserve [the building] if possible."

Initially, the board in June raised the rating of the building on Government Hill to Grade 2, but even this sparked a public outcry after which four board members resigned.

That grading came after the government declared plans to tear down the West Wing and construct a 32-story commercial tower in its place, saying the historic value of the former office was relatively low.

The board then raised the rating from Grade 3 to Grade 2 and launched a public consultation that ended on August 31.

The June meeting saw the board deadlocked, with members split evenly on Grade 1 and Grade 2 ratings.

Bernard Charnwut Chan then used his vote as the chairman to rate it a Grade 2 building, sparking criticism that he was acting in collusion with the government.

The four members who quit had all voted in favor of a Grade 2 rating.

So it is more than likely that when the next ballot takes place, those in favor of labeling it a Grade 1 building will hold sway.

Should this happen, the government will likely review the redevelopment plan for the West Wing, a source said.

Architecture expert Lee Ho-yin, who quit the board in June, said the West Wing is not of Grade 1 standard but public opinion will have to be taken into consideration since it is a government property.

But Hong Kong Institute of Urban Design president Bernard Lim Wan-fung said the board should take professional opinion into consideration and public opinion as reference only.

Lim said: "The Antiquities Advisory Board is not the Town Planning Board nor a district council, it should not make decisions based on public opinion and should use a more objective standard."

He also believes the board's rating is only one of the considerations and the government should decide separately on whether to redevelop the West Wing building.
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