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LCQ3: Conservation work of the Government

     Following is a question by Dr the Hon Kenneth Chan and a reply by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, in the Legislative Council today (June 15):

     Recently, some community groups have relayed to me their grave concerns about the progress of projects of the Reassembly of the Queen's Pier (RQP) and Revitalisation of the Former Central Police Station Compound (commonly known as the "Big Station"), as well as their dissatisfaction with the performance of the Government in handling the two projects. On the other hand, an external wall of the former married quarters for inspectors located inside the Big Station collapsed suddenly on the 29th of last month (the incident), which has stunned the public. In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(1) given that after the incident, the authorities only entrusted the investigation work of the incident to the Hong Kong Jockey Club, which is responsible for the revitalisation project of the Big Station, of the reasons why the authorities have not taken the incident and the RQP project to the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) for discussion; whether the authorities will, in light of public concerns, expeditiously take the two projects to AAB for discussion and recommendations; if they will not, of the reasons for that;

(2) given that when the authorities earlier conducted a public consultation on various options for the RQP, the views received which were in support of the RQP at or nearest to its original location (in-situ reassembly option) far exceeded those in support of the three reassembly options proposed by the authorities, whether the authorities will consider afresh the in-situ reassembly option; if they will not consider, of the justifications for that; if they will consider, whether the authorities will conduct relevant studies and consultation anew for this option; and

(3) whether the authorities concerned will consider, in addition to inspecting the structural safety of various buildings inside the Big Station, inspecting the structural safety of all the outdoor public places of the Big Station concurrently; if they will, of the details of the inspection work; if not, the reasons for that; whether the authorities concerned will, upon the completion of various investigation and inspection work, make public the full report and identify in the report the party to be held responsible; if they will, of the specific arrangements; if not, the reasons for that?



     The Government is gravely concerned with the partial collapse of the external wall of the Married Inspectors' Quarters of the Central Police Station (CPS) Compound, and takes the public views on the reassembly options of the Queen's Pier (QP) seriously. Our reply to the three parts of the question is as follows:

(1) After the partial collapse of the external wall of the Married Inspectors' Quarters of the CPS Compound, the priority is to ensure the safety of the works site including the other 15 historic buildings in the Compound. The Hong Kong Jockey Club (HKJC) will continue to work closely with the Buildings Department (BD). Other than the emergency strengthening works agreed by the BD, the revitalisation works in the CPS Compound will only be resumed after it is certified safe. Given alteration and addition works are involved in the CPS Compound revitalisation project, all design drawings must be approved by the BD before construction works can commence. Since the start of the revitalisation project, the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO) has been providing comments to the BD from the heritage conservation perspective. As the CPS Compound is a group of declared monuments, the HKJC has to submit the heritage conservation measures and the method statement to the AMO regarding the revitalisation proposal in accordance with the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance. The AMO will consider the impact of the revitalisation proposal on the heritage value of the monuments before giving approval. As a matter of fact, during the preparation and identification of the conservation management plan of the CPS Compound revitalisation project, the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) was consulted. The AMO is responsible for monitoring its subsequent implementation. In the meantime, the HKJC and its revitalisation team are actively drawing up the restoration plan of the Married Inspectors' Quarters during which the AMO will provide comments. Should the restoration plan significantly affect the heritage value of the monuments, the AMO will request the HKJC to consult the AAB at an appropriate juncture and seek the approval of the Antiquities Authority (i.e. the Secretary for Development) before implementation.

     As regards the proposal to reassemble the QP, the Planning Department conducted two phases of public engagement exercise for the Urban Design Study of the New Central Harbourfront (UDS) in 2007 and 2008. There was extensive discussion on the location to reassemble the QP, and the AAB, the former Harbour-front Enhancement Committee, relevant professional bodies, 18 District Councils and the public were consulted during the process. The UDS finally recommended that the QP be reassembled between Central Piers Nos. 9 and 10 for commemorative purpose and to revive its pier function. Design elements were also recommended to be added at the original site of the QP to commemorate the historical significance of the QP.

     The Government subsequently proposed to develop a new piazza at the original site of the QP. Its key design features include shallow water features to reflect the old coastline; a new canopy at the original site of QP near the entrance to the piazza and a feature wall mounted with etched-on photos and text to explain the history of the old QP; and paving pattern to emphasise the central ceremonial axis facing the existing flag poles and parade stage.

     As per the existing heritage impact assessment mechanism, since the area in the vicinity between Central Piers Nos. 9 and 10 does not have any historic building, or site or building with archaeological value, there is no need to conduct heritage impact assessment. In addition, the location for reassembly works went through extensive consultation during the UDS process, including consultation with the AAB, before it was recommended at the site between Central Piers Nos. 9 and 10. Hence, there is no need to consult the AAB again.

(2) The Civil Engineering and Development Department (CEDD) conducted a community engagement exercise from March to May this year for the design of the reassembly of the QP. Members of the public completed and returned 1 955 survey forms. Among them, 1 741 chose the design options for reassembling the QP between Central Piers Nos. 9 and 10 (317, 413 and 1 011 chose the three design options respectively). At the same time, the CEDD also received 1 058 written submissions, mostly submitted via standard template, which considered that the QP should be reassembled at its original location in front of the City Hall. We also note from the media that individuals have expressed different opinions on the reassembly location.

     The Government is now carefully analysing and considering the public views received from the community engagement exercise before deciding on the way forward for the reassembly of the QP. At the present stage, there has yet been any conclusion. However, we must point out that the location for the QP reassembly was discussed extensively in the public engagement exercise of the UDS and its recommendation was to reassemble the QP between Central Piers Nos. 9 and 10. I understand that some individuals may not agree with the proposed location but repeated studies and further consultations would not be constructive either.

     Furthermore, according to the CEDD, reassembly of the QP at its original location at the current juncture is impractical from an engineering perspective. First, reassembly works at the original location will be in conflict with a number of existing or planned infrastructures, including that Lung Wo Road will need to be realigned, the existing box culvert underneath will need to be modified, and serious restrictions will be imposed on the planned overrun tunnel for the Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express, the proposed new North Island Line, as well as the future development of Site 4 of the new Central harbourfront. Furthermore, as the reassembly at the original location will involve the above-mentioned works and additional advance works for the overrun tunnel, higher costs are expected. These are relevant factors that the Government has to take into account when it considers the relevant proposal.

(3) After the partial collapse incident, officers of the BD promptly carried out site inspections of the overall structures of the remaining 15 historic buildings in the CPS Compound and the open areas. No abnormalities were revealed and the initial assessment was that the risk of structural safety was not high. Notwithstanding the above, all revitalisation works in the entire Compound have been suspended for safety sake. The authorised person and registered structural engineer of the project will submit an assessment report to the BD and the works will only be resumed after the safety of the overall structures of the historic buildings in the entire Compound and the open areas has been confirmed. In this regard, the BD will continue to liaise closely with the HKJC as well as its authorised person, registered structural engineer and registered contractor.

     The BD will conduct a detailed investigation into the cause of the partial collapse incident. As the investigation involves the testing of the relevant building materials and samples can only be collected upon the completion of the structural strengthening works in the collapsed parts of the building, it is expected that the investigation may take some more time to complete. The BD will make public its findings as appropriate after the completion of the investigation.

     Apart from the investigation conducted by the BD, the HKJC will set up an independent review panel comprising professionals to conduct a thorough investigation on the cause of the incident and to make recommendations on necessary improvement measures in future.

     Thank you, President.

Ends/Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Issued at HKT 16:44


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