Planning permission given for highrise hospital in Hong Kong’s Central District
The Diocese of Hong Kong has won permission from the city’s planning board to build a 25-storey hospital on the grounds of its Bishop’s House compound in the Central District — Hong Kong’s commercial center on the north shore of Hong Kong Island, across Victoria Harbor from Kowloon.
On 10 August 2018, the Town Planning Board rejected without comment a petition filed by historic preservation groups asking the city impose a height restriction on new construction in a 6.3 hectare area in Central that includes Government House, St John’s Anglican Cathedral and Bishop’s House, and 13 other historic buildings.
A spokesman for the Government Hill Concern Group, Katty Law Ngar-ning, told the South China Morning Post historic preservation groups were disappointed by the ruling. “Such a large-scale development would be out of place and incompatible with the area’s low-rise, low-density and green environment,” she said, adding: “With no planning control in place, Sheng Kung Hui could propose redeveloping its other buildings into 20 to 30-storey residential property with luxury flats in the future if they wanted.”
Plans submitted by the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (the Anglican Church in Hong Kong and Macao) propose a church-run 293-bed hospital with 12 operating theatres and parking for 90 cars in a 25-storey structure, on the site of its colonial era offices and bishop’s residence.
The Commissioner for Heritage’s Office and the Antiquities and Monuments Office declined to back the neighborhood association, saying sufficient safeguards were already in place to protect historic buildings in Hong Kong. They held there was a need to “strike a proper balance between preservation of historic buildings and respect for private property rights”.
Under current zoning rules, the diocese is permitted to build a hospital on its property, but must seek government approval for traffic, parking and architectural designs that conform to the character of the neighborhood.