The west wing redevelopment plan combines both conservation and development
The Antiquities Advisory Board made a decision on 14 June, rating the west wing of the former Central Government Offices as grade 2 historic building. Secretary for Development Mrs Carrie Lam has also announced the final plan for the development of the site, insisting on pulling down the west wing and developing the site in a BOT (Build-Operate-Transfer) model. According to the plan, the site will not be used for commercial purpose. The plan of the government to redevelop the west wing and at the same time retain the ownership of the site is in fact a compromised solution in response to the public demand on conservation of the Government Hill. It takes into consideration the overall conservation of the Government Hill while at the same time allows the redevelopment of the area to improve the traffic condition and environment as well as to increase the supply of office space to meet the practical needs of development in Central. It has struck a needed balance between conservation and development.
There have been high aspirations in the community demanding the conservation of the entire Government Hill. Although the government will eventually demolish the west wing and release the site to developers for redevelopment and operation in a format that resembles the operation model of cross harbour tunnel construction, it will retain the ownership of the new building and the land on the site. In addition, the redevelopment of the west wing will only occupy an area of 1,350 square metres of land, much less than the 2,520 square metres that the west wing currently occupies. Public open space will further increase from the current 6,800 square metres to 7,600 square metres, providing an 'urban lung' in Central.
After the demolition of the west wing, the section of Ice House Street near Queen's Road Central will be widened and the number of traffic lanes can be increased from two at present to three. As can be seen from the abovementioned adjustments, the government has made considerable concessions in handling the west wing project. While retaining the ownership of the west wing land for the sake of conservation and reconstruction of the entire Government Hill, the government plan is also bringing along remarkable improvements to traffic condition, air quality and public open space in the area. Basically, the plan will be able to achieve the effects of conservation. ■Translation by 东明 email@example.com