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The Revitalisation of Central Police Station

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The presenter for the April 2011 eventwas a long time APM member and experienced project manager in Hong Kong, John Latter. He addressed a topic of controversial public interest, the revitalisation of Central Police Station at the Royal Hong Kong Yacht Club on 12 April 2011. This proved to be a popular event with a strong turnout of 57 members and guests.

John has 30 years of experience in the construction industry in Hong Kong. He joined PCCW as the Project Director for the Cyberport Project in 1999. Currently, John is the Executive Manager, Property Project Management at the Hong Kong Jockey Club. His portfolio includes revitalization of racecourse facilities, clubhouse improvement projects and charity projects (including this revitalization of Central Police Station (CPS)). His talk focuses on the background and the rationale behind the proposed revitalization of Victoria Prison, the Central Magistracy and Central Police Station; collectively referred to as CPS.

The Development Bureau of the HKSAR Government and the Hong Kong Jockey Club Charities Trust unveiled a heritage-led plan for CPS on 11 October 2010. As part of the Governments Conserving Central initiative, the CPS project is intended to conserve and re-use all historic buildings and create a centre of heritage, arts and leisure facilities in Hong Kong. A conservation management plan is needed to adapt the 19th and 20th century vacated CPS (decommissioned in 2006) to meet the stated objectives. As a guide, we need to understand what we currently have in this important heritage site, evaluate its significance, identify its vulnerability and then decide on the best way to conserve the significance. The way to preserve the heritage in a sustainable manner is most difficult. John said that in Hong Kong we were losing our heritage. In the proposal, 18 of the 20 historic buildings, including F Hall, would be reserved. The key issue is to transform some prison buildings to modern use. In addition, two new structures, at 25 metres above the prison yard, would be erected to house gallery space and a multi-purpose venue.

We know that open space in Central is very limited. The prison yard and the police parade ground will be activated, as the upper and lower courtyards, and opened up for easy access and enjoyment by the public with trees being replanted. The idea is to make a useable public space. Another issue is the connectivity to the city. The historic site will be made more accessible to Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and other Central points. An Old Bailey Gate, an Arbuthnot Gate and a footbridge to the Mid-levels Escalators are planned to open up. Access to the disabled will be provided. Connecting the site from north to south is one of the huge challenges, according to John. Finally, the CPS design is community orientated. It proposes adapting the historic site into spaces that encourage community participation. It also takes into account of the needs of the local arts community. Thirty-seven percent (9,615m2) of the construction floor area would be for arts and culture uses, 36% (9,222 m2) for open space and public use, and 27% (7,122 m2) for commercial use. Note the CPS proposal uses a not-for-profit approach. But the commercial users would be charged commercial rents, while the art facilities would be rented to non-profit making organizations at low rents.

Section 16 public consultation ended on 18 February 2011. The statutory approval process of the Environmental Impact Assessment for the project is now under way and the full operation is expected to commence by the end of 2014.


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