Assessment of Antiquities and Monument Office (AMO)
Carrick was first assessed as Grade 3 and later confirmed as Grade 1 historic building by the Antiquities Advisory Board (AAB) and AMO. This means that it is a building “of outstanding merit, which every effort should be made to preserve if possible”
The First Owner
Carrick was built in 1887 by J.J. Francis, a barrister. According to AMO record, he was in a committee of four persons to investigate the issue of mui-tsai (妹仔), indentured Chinese girls working as unpaid domestic servants. Mr Francis had helped draw up the Po Leung Kuk Incorporation Ordinance. He was also involved in some public duties. His connection with the house was very brief, only seven years.
Two Section 12A Applications
Present Owner’s S12A Application, No. Y/H14/4
In June 2015 the owner of 23 Coombe Road (the Carrick Site) submitted a Section 12A application, No. Y/H14/4 to the Town Planning Board (TPB) proposing to rezone an area of "Green Belt" ("GB") to "Residential (C)6" to facilitate the relocation of development rights. This would enable the preservation of “Carrick”, a Grade 1 historic building on site.
The proposed substitute site in application No. Y/H14/4 which is located opposite the Carrick Site in an area zoned Green Belt (GB). This GB site is located on top of the Aberdeen Country Park. It is very steep and densely vegetated which is not suitable for any type of development. It has unrestricted views over Aberdeen Country Park and the sea view beyond. The proposed development on the substitute site would lead to loss of public amenity and would set an undesirable precedent by exchanging land of much higher value for one of much lower value but has historic building.
The limitations of the content of that application Y/H14/4 meant that other possibly better solutions could not be considered by the TPB. Therefore, the Aberdeen Country Park Concern Group (ACG, the Concern Group) submitted another S.12A application in the public interest to facilitate heritage preservation and conservation of GB areas.
Masterplan was commissioned by ACG to prepare a S12A application to propose options to preserve Carrick as well as its important setting in relation to the ACP. The application put forward a preferred option (in-situ option) so that the development rights on the Carrick Site could be realised within the site itself. It also proposed an alternative, non in-situ option, to transfer the development rights on the Carrick Site to a less prominent location than that proposed in Y/H14/4.
The preferred option proposed to rezone the Carrick Site from Residential (Group C)2 (“R(C)2”) to OU (Historic Building Preservation and Residential Development) to preserve the existing historic building and allow additional residential development. The maximum GFA permitted is 549.98sqm in addition to the existing GFA of the historic building and maximum building height four storeys including carports, or existing building height whichever is greater.
As for the alternative option, it proposed to rezone a green belt site to R(C)2, same as that of the Carrick Site. This alternative site occupied a less prominent location and could reduce the loss of public amenity. Under this option, the Carrick Site was to be rezoned to OU(Historic Building Preservation).
Both the preferred option and the alternative option proposed in this application respect development rights. They could better balance the needs for heritage preservation and nature conservation than that proposed in Y/H14/4. The application considered that the preferred option was the most desirable as it affected the least vegetation and number of trees. If it was found infeasible, the alternative option was a more appropriate like for like substitution for the Carrick Site.
TPB’s Decision on the two S12A Applications
The two S12A Applications were considered by the TPB on the same day. The Board approved the owner’s application, but rejected the Concern Group’s application.
The decision of the Board was later shown on The Peak Area Outline Zoning Plan (OZP) No. S/H14/12.