Lawmaker Eddie Chu said it was “ridiculous” that the government did not halt the demolition of the historic Union Church, as the government heritage board is considering information over whether to upgrade its protection rating.
The sanctuary and bell tower of the church on Kennedy Road, built in 1949, were listed as Grade III historic buildings in March. But the status offered no legal protection against demolition.
Susanna Siu, executive secretary to the government’s Antiquities and Monuments Office, said her office and the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office contacted the church multiple times in 2014 to discuss conservation plans. She said the owner agreed to keep some of the church’s remains.
Siu said some concerned members of the congregation requested a reevaluation of the church’s heritage rating in September: “We have given the information to the Antiquities Advisory Board, and the information is being considered,” she said at a Legislative Council session.
The Antiquities Advisory Board is the consultative body which considers heritage ratings.
Eddie Chu, who recently staged a protest in a last-ditch effort to save the church, was not satisfied: “They are considering – but what now? It is already being demolished. Can we save it at all?” he said. “Ms Siu, will you tell the church that the Antiquities Advisory Board is considering a rating review, can you stop the demolition for now?”
Chu criticised officials, saying they did not make any promise to suspend the demolition.
“Isn’t it ridiculous that they are going to review the rating, only after it will be demolished?” he said.
The church leadership signed a deal with Henderson Land Development earlier this year to redevelop the 68-year-old stone structure in Mid-levels into a 22-storey block of apartments.
Andrew Lam, chairman of the Antiquities Advisory Board, told Apple Daily that he indeed received the said information from the government.
He said he was waiting for the Antiquities and Monuments Office to tell him whether it contains any new information. If so, the Board will discuss the matter in a meeting; otherwise, the current rating will remain.