Town Planning Board,
I OBJECT to this application from Tung Wah Group of Hospitals to redevelop a former school on a section of Man Mo Temple as a 21-storey youth hostel. Please reject this application for the following reasons:
1/ Man Mo Temple is one of the most important temples in Hong Kong and a declared Monument whose architectural and spiritual integrity should not be disturbed by inappropriate development within or surrounding the Man Mo Temple compound.
2/ The internationally-recognized heritage conservation agreement, the Burra Charter, demands that there be “minimal change” to the buildings of a significant heritage site and that any changes “should respect associations and meanings; and where appropriate should provide for continuation of practices which contribute to the cultural significance of the place.” The 21-storey youth hostel is totally inconsistent with Man Mo Temple in style and in scale. It will disrupt the heritage setting of the Declared Monument.
3/ Man Mo Temple lies at the heart of the historic old city area of Sheung Wan and Central – it must be protected with care so as to preserve the area’s heritage significance.
4/ This redevelopment design is too bulky, too tall and out of proportion with Man Mo Temple.
5/ The smoke generated from the temple will affect the air quality of the youth hostel and its windows have to remain closed most of the time. This is unhealthy and not environmentally sustainable.
6/ Mid-levels above Sheung Wan fall within the geotechnical sensitive area. According to the geotechnical appraisal conducted by the Urban Renewal Authority in 2008 for Wing Lee Street, with which Man Mo Temple is in close proximity, pile work therein would cause cracks and subsidence in buildings and retaining walls in adjacent areas. Although Tung Wah Group of Hospitals has promised to stop the construction work when unusual subsidence is discovered in the site, Man Mo Temple as a Declared Monument should not be subject to such unnecessary risk.
7/ A sensitive, heritage-aware city and Town Planning Board should recognize that any redevelopment of the school site gives a remarkable opportunity to build a heritage education centre which recaptures the original one-storey scale of Man Mo Temple. Alternatively, the existing building could be reused for other functions such as a community library or a senior day-care centre.
8/ Due to heritage, cultural, structural and environmental reasons, the subject site is not an appropriate site for building a youth hostel. We strongly request the Town Planning Board to reject this application.
We highly suggest government to find an alternative site for youth hostel in other vacant government or police quarters.