Developer likely to get go-ahead to demolish historic Maryknoll House in Stanley after HK government gives plan the nod

05-Jan-2019 Intellasia | South China Morning Post | 6:00 AM Print This Post

A proposal to turn a historic block for Catholic missionaries in Hong Kong into luxury flats by its private owner could get the go-ahead from planning authorities on Friday, after government officials raised no objection to the plan.

The proposal, which would see 83-year-old Maryknoll House in Stanley partially altered, or demolished, and replaced by a low-rise residential complex, will be discussed at a Town Planning Board meeting.

The three-storey building at 44 Stanley Village Road has the highest listed status at grade one, which means “every effort should be made to preserve it if possible”.

However, listed status does not prevent a building from being demolished or changed, as legal protection is only afforded to sites that are classified as monuments.

In a paper for the board’s consideration, the Planning Department, Commissioner for Heritage’s Office, Antiquities and Monuments Office and other relevant government departments all said they had no objection to the proposal to rezone the use of the site from “government, institution or community” to “residential development with historic building preserved”.

“The government recognises the need for economic incentives in order to encourage… private owners to preserve historic buildings,” the commissioner for heritage and the executive secretary for antiquities and monuments jointly said in the paper.

“As an incentive, it is considered justifiable to support the proposed development in exchange for the preservation of Maryknoll House in situ.”

The house was previously the headquarters of the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, before CSI Properties bought it in 2016 for HK$780 million.

The proposal was submitted by New Season Global Limited, which is registered overseas, with some of its directors serving as CSI’s executive directors.

Under the proposal, the historic house will be developed into five flats ranging from 2,700 sq ft to 5,900 sq ft, as well as a single three-storey mansion of 19,500 sq ft.

Two new houses will be built at a lower platform so they will not block the heritage site when viewed from afar.

The planning application received 220 objecting views from the public, with some suggesting the site should be retained for religious use, or turned into a place for the homeless, a school or a market. Others argued the proposal had failed to preserve the building’s authenticity.

There were 16 supportive comments, which mostly said the plan could bring new life to the old building and further enhance local property prices.

Heritage officials said the “structural and architectural integrity” of the building would remain intact under the proposal.

They noted that part of the house’s first two floors would be removed to make way for a new glass entrance with barrier-free access, but said the house’s distinctive green glazed tiled roof would remain intact, and the new entrance could balance the modern and the historic elements of the building.

Officials added that the building’s most significant architectural features, including two grand staircases and a chapel wing, would be preserved.

The owner has also promised to provide guided tours “acceptable to the future residents” every six months, allowing pre-registered guests to visit the site, which has been inaccessible to the public since it was built in 1935.

But the Planning Department’s chief town planner pointed out that the applicant might have exaggerated in claiming that the proposal would open up views of the heritage building for public appreciation, because the layout indicated that the house would largely be blocked by the two new houses when viewed from a lower level.


Category: Hong Kong

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