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2021-02-23 HKT 14:23
Government officials say the Antiquities Advisory Board will hold a meeting next month to consider the conservation value of a century-old underground reservoir in Sham Shui Po, and people will later have a chance to share their views about the architecture during a one-month public consultation exercise.
Demolition of the Bishop Hill reservoir with impressive stone and brick arches was abruptly halted in December after a public outcry, with the government saying that the site should be preserved.
At a Sham Shui Po District Council meeting, Christine Mok, an assistant curator at the Antiquities and Monuments Office (AMO), said they are now conducting an in-depth study into the architecture.
She said the AMO will soon submit its findings to an expert panel – the independent Historic Buildings Assessment Panel – which will propose a historic grading for the site.
She said the Antiquities Advisory Board – which advises the AMO – will discuss the conservation value of the reservoir on March 11 and decide whether to approve the proposed grading.
Once the grading is approved, she said the AMO will launch a one-month public consultation for people to submit their views.
Mok said the Antiquities Advisory Board will confirm the final grading for the structure after the public consultation is completed.
The official stressed that the government is open to all proposals to preserve the reservoir.
Meanwhile, the Water Supplies Department said reinforcement works are underway at the reservoir to ensure the safety of the structure.
An official from the department said they will see whether they can organise a guided tour for members of the public to visit the now sealed-off site.
During the meeting, a number of councillors accused the AMO of failing to do its job in preserving the city’s heritage, saying it was only when the matter came to the public's attention that officials called-off the demolition of the reservoir.
Between 1996 and 2000, the government surveyed 8,800 historic buildings in Hong Kong. It identified 1,444 with a higher heritage value for more in-depth assessment, but the Bishop Hill reservoir, built in 1904, was not among them.
Some district councillors called on the AMO to publish the full details of the 8,800 historic buildings, saying the condition of many of them remains a mystery to the public.
In response, Mok said the AMO would follow up on the suggestion.
The district council, meanwhile, voted to set up a special task force to monitor developments with the reservoir site.