Twenty-five storey hospital proposed in Hong Kong’s ‘heritage heartland’

The Sheng Kung Hui hospital development plan on Lower Albert Road

It has been revealed that plans are in motion for a 25-storey private hospital on historic Bishop’s Hill, Central.

The building would straddle Bishop’s Hill between Lower and Upper Albert Roads, closely wedged between low-rise historic buildings and covering the site’s grassy areas. It would include car parking facilities with an entrance and exit on already congested Lower Albert Road.

Bishop’s Hill boasts one of the highest concentrations of graded heritage buildings in one dedicated area, including three grade one historic buildings – Bishop’s House which dates from 1843, St Paul’s Church and the Church Guest House – as well as open, grassy areas. A long land lease for the site was granted to the Hong Kong Sheng Kung Hui (SKH or Anglican Church) in the first year of British rule in Hong Kong and allows the SKH to operate a theological college, school, St Paul’s Church and a hospital – the former seven-storey Hong Kong Central Hospital – with staff accommodation.

The Foreign Correspondent’s Club (FCC), which is located opposite to the proposed entrance to the new hospital, is now urging the public to submit objections to the proposal, on the basis that the building will be out-of-proportion to the low-rise heritage buildings in the area.  According to the FCC, the development will have a ‘detrimental visual impact on a unique heritage corridor’, which starts at the FCC building and ends at St John’s Cathedral and the former Court of Appeal – of which the latter two both have Monument status. The FCC was founded in 1943 in Japanese-occupied China and relocated to Hong Kong in 1949. It moved to its current location in a nineteenth century ice house at 2 Lower Albert Road in 1982.  Bishop’s House is located at 1 Lower Albert Road.

Heritage and conservancy groups have come together under the umbrella of the Government Hill Concern Group and have filed a pre-emptive planning application with the Town Planning Board requesting that any redeveloped hospital be of the current hospital’s seven-storey height and footprint and the entire Bishop’s Hill site and its  heritage buildings are preserved ‘and treated with respect’.

Following years of demolition of historical buildings and sites, in 2009 the government’s Development Bureau launched a Conserving Central policy ‘to preserve many of the important cultural, historical or architectural features in Central’. Bishop’s Hill is not listed as a protected site under this scheme.

The full application can be read here. Objections to the proposal ‘Change of Anglican Church lease on Bishop Hill’ need to be made by Friday June 29 here.  An objection template letter has been drawn up by the FCC, please view it here.




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