Photo: Laurent Fievet/AFP/File
Hong Kong has reversed a decision to declare one of the city’s last colonial-era mansions a heritage site after objections from the owner who plans to demolish the property, officials said Tuesday.Built by and named after Sir Robert Ho Tung in 1927, the Ho Tung Gardens sits on a site of just over a hectare (two and a half acres) in a high-end residential neighbourhood on The Peak.
The city announced plans in October last year to preserve the site, but the bid faced fierce opposition from the owner — Ho’s granddaughter — who reportedly wanted to demolish the mansion and replace it with 10 cottages.
“The owner has objected and appealed to the chief executive,” development minister Paul Chan told reporters, saying that the government could have faced legal action if it was to continue with the plan without the owner’s consent.
“The owner can now go ahead…with the redevelopment plan,” Chan said.
Government officials said they had met with the owner, Ho Min-kwan, and representatives to discuss options for preservation despite their differences. She reportedly rejected a government offer for a land swap.
Ho Tung Gardens is the only remaining residence directly related to Ho, who was a prominent community leader and the first non-European to receive permission from the then British colonial administration to reside on The Peak.
Authorities have called the house a “rare history building” and “probably the earliest surviving example, of Chinese renaissance architecture in Hong Kong”.
Hong Kong, a former British colony, was returned to China in 1997 and remains a semi-autonomous city with its own legal and administrative system.
Copyright (2012) AFP. All rights reserved.
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