【古諮會覆核 同德押有望升級 須申拆樓許可料需時1月】
Designing Hong Kong
Spawton Architecture limited
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Though listed as a Grade III Historic Building, the Tung Tak Pawn Shop which has stood in Wan Chai for 80 years is now facing the threat of demolition under urban renewal. Over the past 50 years, it has operated as a pawn shop and is one of Hong Kong’s last remaining single block arcade style tenement house pawn shop. With its neighbor – Foo Tak Building – the contrast of the two old and new buildings has long been recognized as a landmark of Wan Chai District. In this instance, what role has the Hong Kong government played in the conservation of such a historically important building? As for the Secretary of Development, Paul Chan Mo-po, where is he now and what is his response in regard to the impending demolition of this building?
Based on current legislation, the Secretary of Development oversees the Antiquities and Monuments Office, and can issue a decree to temporarily list Tung Tak Pawn Shop as a Proposed historical monument under the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance Section 2A. This action would delay the demolition works for a period of 12 months, which could provide sufficient time for discussions and negotiations to be made with the relevant property owner, and put forward new policies to encourage as well as assist private property owners in the conservation of historically significant buildings in Hong Kong. Suggested policies could include: the offer of Non-in-situ Land Exchange, the offer of in-situ Land Exchange, transfer of plot ratio, and providing compensatory funds to the property owner. In 2008 and 2011, the government utilized Section 2A of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance to temporarily list King Yin Lei and Ho Tung Gardens, respectively, of which King Yin Lei was successfully preserved without infringing personal property rights by using the offer of land of equal value in a different district.
The Ko Ho Neng family, property owners of Tung Tak Pawn Shop, has had the reputation of being “King of the Pawn Shop Industry”, with operations in the business going back for years. The family has also been involved in the preservation of pawn shops in Macau. Macau’s very own Pawn Shop Museum is in fact located in Tak Shing Pawn Shop, which was formerly owned by the Ko family and has had 90 years of history. Apart from this, Ko Ho Neng’s former home is also an important historical monument of Macau. The Antiquities and Monuments Office has stated that they have thrice contacted the Ko family to engage in discussions on conservation, however the Hong Kong Development Bureau has not actively engaged in this matter. As it was in the case of King Yin Lei, the conservation of Tung Tak Pawn Shop requires the involvement of more senior officials from the government in the discussions and negotiations with property owners. The suggested course of action – temporarily listing Tung Tak Pawn Shop as a proposed historical monument under Section 2A of the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance – would ‘buy’ time for negotiations, and create a ‘triple win’ situation for citizens of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong government, and property owner – all without infringing upon private property rights.
Established in 1976, the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance has not been altered for 40 years and is still employed as present-day policy for the conservation of historical monuments. The Antiquities Advisory Board assesses the historical significance of the 1,400 historical buildings in Hong Kong, but the gradings do not result in any legal protection for these buildings. Apart from 108 legally declared monuments in Hong Kong, any property owner of a historical building can freely demolish these monuments without accountability. In this case, historical gradings and the Antiquities Advisory Board are effectively useless. At this opportune moment, the government must respond to the changing world and amend the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance to reflect present concerns.
Our demands put forward to the Secretary of Development, Paul Chan Mo-po are as below:
1) That the Hong Kong Development Bureau should temporarily list the Tung Tak Pawn Shop as a legally declared proposed historical monument and cease demolition work on the building
2) That the Hong Kong Development Bureau should engage in direct discussions with the property owners of Tung Tak Pawn Shop to formulate a mutually agreed plan for the conservation of this building
3) That the Antiquities and Monuments Ordinance be amended to confer legal status and protection to historical gradings, so as to conserve the cultural heritage of Hong Kong
Please join us as we petition for the Hong Kong Development Bureau to take responsibility for Hong Kong’s precious history, antiquities, and historical monuments by preserving Tung Tak Pawn Shop – one of the last surviving buildings of its kind.
Jointly signed on August 10, 2015.