25 March 2019
A wall of a three-story building made of wood and bricks inside the former Central Police Station collapsed on Sunday. Photo: CNSA
A wall of a three-story building made of wood and bricks inside the former Central Police Station collapsed on Sunday. Photo: CNSA

Wall collapse spurs safety probe at Central heritage site

The Hong Kong Jockey Club will appoint an independent company to conduct a comprehensive study on the safety of the 16 heritage buildings at the former Central Police Station on Hollywood Road, after a brick wall at the site collapsed on Sunday, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The Jockey Club CPS Limited (JCCPS) has been commissioned to take charge of the redevelopment of the site into a cultural and leisure destination.

But the project, called Tai Kwun, is now set for delays after a large brick wall of the married quarters building inside the compound collapsed on Sunday night.

The incident caused no injuries.

Officials from the buildings and highways departments inspected the three-storey building, which was made of wood and bricks, and confirmed that the first and second storeys as well as the roof had collapsed.

Dr. Lee Ho-yin, who chaired the Tai Kwun’s Heritage Working Group, said three to four years ago, his team discovered that the collapsed wall was made of green bricks which were made locally about a hundred years ago.

However, they were forced to do nothing as the building was a declared monument.

Former chairman of the Hong Kong Institute of Architects Bernard Lim Wan-fung said he found the collapse strange and that it could be due to problems at the foundation or vibrations from construction projects nearby.

Central and Western District Concern Group member Katty Law said the incident was beyond belief as it was the first of the declared monuments in Hong Kong to have collapsed.

She said Lee’s explanations were unacceptable, saying she could not believe that a building would suddenly collapsed after standing tall for over 100 years.

Law also pointed to excavation work near the site of wall collapse, which could have introduced structural damage to the building.

The Central and Western District Council is calling for an urgent meeting to discuss the incident, with representatives of the contractor Gammon expected to take part.

The JCCPS earlier announced the first batch of eight restaurants that were granted operating rights at the site and scheduled for opening at the end of this year.

Hong Chi Association, one of the winning operators, said preparation work for a social enterprise restaurant at Tai Kwun has already started.

It pledged to maintain regular communications with the venue owner to ensure the safety of the building before the restaurant opens its doors to the public.

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