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141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Back plan or mansion goes: owners' ultimatum
Contractors ready to knock down historic Jessville

17 May 2008
South China Morning Post

Owners of a historic mansion in Pok Fu Lam have threatened to tear it down unless the government backs their proposal to erect three multi-storey residential blocks on the site.

Ian Brownlee, planning consultant for Jessville's owners, said the hoardings were in place in preparation for demolition, but they had no definite schedule for work to start.

The 77-year-old structure, declared a proposed monument last year, was later denied monument status after the government said it had an assurance from the owners that the mansion would be kept as a residents' clubhouse.

The building was later classified by the Antiquities Advisory Board as a grade 3 listed building, which gives it no legal protection.

"We have no reason why the building can't be demolished," Mr Brownlee said. "The talks with the government have made no progress and the owners are ready to push ahead with the demolition plan."

He said the owners only wanted the government to agree to their proposal, which would enable development with a plot ratio of three, which was permitted under the outline zoning plan. "I don't know why the government does not support the proposal. We want to find out."

The owners propose to build three residential blocks of 13 to 27 storeys with 102 flats around the historic building. No extra land is needed, but the towers closest to the mansion will only be separated from it by a few metres.

A spokeswoman for the Development Bureau said the government had not received an application from the owners to demolish the mansion and had not entered any agreement with the owners on development density.

"We support an option which can achieve 'preservation-cum-development'," she said.

The Southern District Council had raised objections to the proposed scale of development and was worried the owners' rezoning proposal might have negative visual and traffic impacts.

Lawmaker Audrey Eu Yuet-mee, who chairs a Legislative Council subcommittee on the heritage status of Jessville, said it would be an administrative blunder if the mansion were torn down. "The government decided to lift the temporary monument status of the mansion. Now, the fate of the house is entirely in the hands of the owner," she said.

Legislator Patrick Lau Sau-shing, an Antiquities Advisory Board member, said the board would be "cheated" by the government if the demolition took place.

"We agreed to giving a grading to the mansion after getting reassurances from the government that it is to be preserved," he said.

The government should give the owners the right to realise the development potential of the site if the mansion could be preserved, he said.

楊鐵樑外父古宅 改建住宅會所
22 April 2009

【明報專訊】由前首席大法官楊鐵樑外父譚雅士所建、有78年歷史的薄扶林道128號大宅 Jessville,古蹟辦事處早前確定不會將之定為古蹟,業主現向城規會申請保留大宅,同時於大宅旁申建2幢分別17層(另加5層平台等)及21層(另加1層平台)的住宅,提供72伙,地積比2.1倍(另外原大宅地積比約為0.2倍),業主並承諾日後有限度開放大宅予公眾參觀,以作公眾教育用途。

另外,項目住客將承擔 Jessville長遠的管理及維修費。由於地皮規劃上有15%覆蓋率上限,現申請放寬至26.17%(現大宅覆蓋率為11.17%)。





141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
South China Morning Post
February 24, 2008 Sunday
Alarm raised at conflicting heritage rulings
Reports on mansion differ widely

Lawmakers are demanding that the government explain stark differences between two assessments less than a year apart of the heritage value of a mansion in Pok Fu Lam.

Jessville - built by barrister, magistrate and leading society figure William Ngar Tse Thomas Tam almost 80 years ago - was declared a proposed monument last year, but early this month it was downgraded to a Grade Three historical building, giving it no protection from demolition.

In April 2007 a government report described it as "a cultural landmark". But a briefing paper to the Legislative Council this month said: "It does not arouse public sentiment."

And while the first report said the mansion, built in 1931, played an important part in the city's urban history, in the revised version it does not meet the "high threshold that justifies its declaration as a monument".

Tam, lauded last year as a "representative figure of the Chinese elite class in the mid-twentieth century", is dismissed as having had a short-lived influence in people's memories.

Both ratings were agreed by the Antiquities Advisory Board. Board members said they relied heavily on the professional advice of the Antiquities and Monuments Office and had not realised the differences between the two reports.

The new rating was tabled to Legco for approval last Wednesday. It will pass unless lawmakers raise objections within 28 days. Lawmakers, members of the board and academics said the government owed the public an explanation.

The paper says the first assessment was made before the Antiquities and Monuments Office had been allowed inside the house at 128 Pok Fu Lam Road, but it does not explain changes to aspects unrelated to the building.

Choy So-yuk, chairwoman of Legco's subcommittee on heritage conservation, said it was "fishy" of the government to revise its judgment on information such as the importance of the building's founder.

"It is impossible to change their view on the historical life of the founder," she said. "It is not something that should be revised after the Antiquities and Monuments Office had gained access inside the house."

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat said that the mansion had the potential to become a monument and such conflicting opinions should not have appeared in a government report on its heritage assessment.

"The government may have adjusted its tone in the document in order to reinforce its policy view. But it is a serious thing to write a Legislative Council brief. There need to be sufficient reasons to account for such changes in views."

They both said they would raise the issue at a Legco House Committee task group meeting on Friday.

The Development Bureau said the decision not to declare the site a monument had been made after considering the professional advice of the Antiquities and Monuments Office. A spokesman said the disparities arising from the two reports were the outcome of an on-site inspection carried out after April last year.

"The on-site inspections reveal that the dome and the pavilion are of ordinary workmanship and their architectural merits are not high."

Jessville will be preserved under a scheme devised by its owners and is likely to become a clubhouse of a residential development, open to the public once a month.

141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Plans for mansion's conversion approved
6 June 2009
South China Morning Post

The Town Planning Board yesterday approved a proposal that will turn a 77-year-old Pok Fu Lam mansion into the clubhouse of a new residential development, but there is one condition - that the clubhouse be open to the public at least once a week.

Board members said that the owners' original plan to open the Jessville mansion to the public only once a month was inadequate, but they approved the development plan and attached conditions. They said public access should be increased to once a week, on a non-working day.

Members also asked the owners to assess the effect the residential towers would have on the whole development to ensure visual harmony between the old and the new. Both requirements would be written as conditions into the planning approval obtained by the owners, a board spokesman said.

According to the owners' plan, the grade-three listed building will be converted into a clubhouse and part of it will be opened to about 50 members of the public once a month. Instead of building three or four residential towers as first planned, the owners scaled it down to two towers of 17 and 21 storeys. The latest plan also sought to ease restrictions on site coverage.

The Planning Department said it had no objection to the proposal. However, the owners would have to draw up a conservation plan for the mansion to the satisfaction of the board, and the director of leisure and cultural services.

The owners would also have to apply for a modification of the lease since the current lease only allows the building of a European house on the site, the board spokesman said.

The 77-year-old structure was declared a proposed monument in 2007 but this status was denied after the government said it had an assurance from the owners that the mansion would be kept as a clubhouse.

141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·

141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
13 October 2007











141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Lam draws fire over policy on mansion
13 March 2008
The Standard

Development chief Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor has come under fire over her decision not to declare the 77-year-old Jessville mansion a monument.

The European-style mansion on 128 Pok Fu Lam Road was built by prominent barrister, lawmaker and social figure William Ngar Tse Thomas Tam in 1931 and named after his wife.

It was declared a proposed monument in April 2007. In January this year the Antiquities Advisory Board withdrew the declaration and decided it was only a Grade III historic building.

On the same day King Yin Lei mansion on Stubbs Road was declared a monument with a plot ratio transfer used to encourage the owner to relinquish the building.

People's Council for Sustainable Development chairman Albert Lai Kwong-tak, at a meeting of the Legislative Council's antiquities and monuments subcommittee, questioned the inconsistency in two government reports on Jessville.

In the first, the monument declaration was justified as Thomas Tam was ``a representative figure of the Chinese elite class in Hong Kong in the mid-20th century.'' In the second, he was demoted to someone with short-lived influence, even though his public service lasted for 18 years.

While one report praised the building for its elaborate Art Deco designs, the other said the workmanship of the interior was ordinary.

Lai called for the setting up of an independent statutory body in place of the board, and said outside experts should be asked to study Jessville.

Legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit said the government's inconsistency rested on Hong Kong having no objective heritage conservation policy.

Janet Wong Wing-chen, deputy secretary for development, said the Antiquities and Monuments Office had enough expertise for it to not require outside expert opinion.

141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Want to visit Jessville mansion? Good luck, you'll have to book
3 October 2009
South China Morning Post

Just how much access should the public get to heritage sites that are owned by private companies? In the case of Jessville, a 77-year-old mansion built in the Italian Renaissance style in Pok Fu Lam, the answer is once a week, no more than 50 people a month and by appointment only.

Not everyone is happy with those terms, which the owner agreed to in exchange for permission to build two new residential towers on the site and turn the mansion into a clubhouse. But others say it is only natural for the owner to want to limit the number of people milling around what is a private development.

A paper by the Development Bureau, submitted to lawmakers yesterday, said the public would be allowed access to no more than half of the mansion and grounds once a week.

On Wednesday, the chief executive approved a partial lifting of the Pok Fu Lam Moratorium to let the owners of Jessville build two residential towers, with 72 flats, beside the mansion. The bureau considered lifting it would give the owners an economic incentive to preserve the site.

The mansion, home to late magistrate William Ngar Tse Thomas Tam, was declared a proposed monument in 2007, but that status was denied after the government said it had an assurance from the owners the mansion would be kept as a clubhouse.

Antiquities Advisory Board member Professor Ng Cho-nam said the quota for visitors was nominal: "It defeats the purpose. I don't think the public can benefit much from this scheme," he said.

Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan, a member of the development affairs panel, said: "Even though it opens once a week, the quota may not be enough for one class of students." She hoped guided tours could be arranged.

Patrick Lau Sau-shing, vice-chairman of the panel, said it was understandable the owner wanted to limit visitor numbers because of its private nature. "But in the long run, we do need to discuss a better way to manage public access to private heritage sites," the architect said.

141,348 Posts
Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Hong Kong’s past meets its present as 90-year-old Pok Fu Lam mansion gets new lease of life as luxury flats
May 25, 2021
South China Morning Post Excerpt

Restoring the 90-year-old Jessville Manor in Pok Fu Lam was always going to be a tough job. Converting it into four units suitable for contemporary living proved to be a completely different ball game.

“Restoring Jessville [Manor] was no easy feat and we have encountered a few challenges during the process,” Samsbury Investments, which owns the Italian Renaissance style home, told the Post. “Retaining and restoring as many of the existing materials as possible to keep the facade and interiors in their historic context required a lot of time and effort.”

The mansion was built by William Ngar Tse Thomas Tam, a barrister and magistrate, in 1929. His son William Nixon Thomas Tam Ching is a director of Samsbury, according to records with the Company Registry.

“This heritage mansion is a rare product in the market. It will definitely attract tenants if the interior fittings manage to meet a luxury standard,” said Koh Keng-sing, chief executive and founder of Landscope Christie’s International Real Estate.

When the four units, which range in size from 2,248 sq ft to 2,961 sq ft, will be available for leasing has yet to be decided, Samsbury said. Work on interiors was still under way, it added.

More : Ninety-year-old Pok Fu Lam mansion in Hong Kong reborn as luxury flats
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