© 2018 Masterplan Limited

New Horizons Building (NHB) Complex, Wang Chui Road, Kowloon Bay

Section 12A Planning Application and Representation to Draft Ngau Tau Kwok and Kowloon Bay OZP

The New Horizons Building (NHB) Complex

The NHB Site is located between Kwun Tong Road and Wang Chui Road in Kowloon Bay. It has a rich history related to the Former Royal Air Force and Vietnamese people.

New Horizons Building, also known as Gray Block

NHB as The Former Royal Air Force Headquarters

 

The area around the NHB Site was a headquarters of the former Royal Air Force. Opened in 1973, the NHB was called Gray Block after Flight Lt Hector Bertam Gary was captured at the fall of Hong Kong in 1941. Flight Lt Gary refused to divulge the names of fellow prisoners to the Japanese, despite torture, and was executed in December 1943 and was buried in the military cemetery in Stanley. In April 1946, he was posthumously awarded the George Cross.

NHB as a temporary settlement for Vietnamese People

 

NHB Site had been used as Kai Tak Camp and a Departure Centre for Vietnamese Refugees / Boat People for about 20 years. Christian Action (CA) had provided services to these people for about 16 years, from 1982 to 1998, including operating the New Horizons School at the NHB premises. It is possibly the only preserved structure retained from the history of Vietnamese Refugees / Boat People in Hong Kong, acting as a pilgrimage for this community to retain a part of their history.

Christian Action (CA)

 

CA has been the occupier of the NHB site for over 30 years. It is a Hong Kong registered charitable organisation with more than 500 employees. It provides a wide range of social support services both in Hong Kong and Mainland China. The NHB and other associated structures on the NHB Site are currently used as CA’s headquarters, main community service centre, Employment Retraining Board (ERB) employment retraining, community sales outlet and its warehouse to recycle second-hand items.

Section 12A Planning Application

 

The NHB Site was zoned Open Space (“O”) on Ngau Tau Kok & Kowloon Bay OZP No. S/K13/28. Masterplan assisted CA to prepare a S 12A application. The request for rezoning the Site from “O” to Government, Institution or Community (G/IC) use was to retain the Site for G/IC uses so that the substantial and practical NHB building on the Site can continue to be used to serve the community. If approved, it would possibly provide a higher level of certainty to CA so that long term development plan of the services can be formulated and implemented. 

New Horizons Building Site

(NHB Site)

The NHB Site was located amid a large area zoned “Open Space” on Draft Ngau Tau Kwok and Kowloon Bay OZP No. S/K13/28

A G/IC zoning will reflect the long established use of the Site; and the sub-zone of G/IC(2) has a clause in the statutory Notes will provide additional planning control and help protect the historical NHB premises. 

 

The re-training programmes partnered with ERB have helped numerous unemployed people affected by the changing economies to re-enter the workforce. As such, the existing use of the Site helps implement government policy.

 

However, before the TPB considered the application, it had been make known that the “O” site where the NHB is situated would be used for public housing development.

TPB Decision on the S12A Application

NHB and housing provision can co-exist on the large site

CA had presented at the TPB hearing that NHB and housing provision can co-exist. However, the S.12A application was not approved.

Amendments shown on Draft Ngau Tau Kwok and Kowloon Bay OZP No. S/K13/29

Government’s intention to change the large “O” site at Wang Chui Road (WCR) where the NHB is located was included as Amendment Items shown on the OZP No. S/K13/29. Amendment Item A was to rezone part of the WCR Site from “O” to R(A) for public housing development, while Amendment Item B was the remaining part of the WCR Site from “O” to G/IC in order to accommodate a secondary school.

Figure: Government’s proposed zonings would lead to demolition of NHB

Amendments shown on Draft Ngau Tau Kwok and Kowloon Bay OZP No. S/K13/29

Government’s intention to change the large “O” site at Wang Chui Road (WCR) where the NHB is located was included as Amendment Items shown on the OZP No. S/K13/29. Amendment Item A was to rezone part of the WCR Site from “O” to R(A) for public housing development, while Amendment Item B was the remaining part of the WCR Site from “O” to G/IC in order to accommodate a secondary school.

Representation to OZP No. S/K13/29

 

Masterplan was again commissioned by CA to submit a representation in relation to Amendment Items A and B.  The submission was intended to provide planning inputs to contribute to the appropriate planning of the Kowloon East and to retain the NHB.

The representation pointed out that there had been persistent and demonstrated needs for the community services presently provided at the NHB Site. The gazetted amendments related to the WCR Site would terminate the continual use of the NHB as a service hub for the community. CA had undertaken site search to accommodate the present services for three years without success.

 

The representation further pointed out that there was an excessive number of secondary schools in the K13 Planning Area, and there were no substantial justifications for an additional one at the NHB Site. Should the Government wish to cater for the contingency that might arise from unforeseeable changes in the number and profile of students in the future, additional school sites should be identified in the newly planned area within the Kwun Tong District, such as the K14N Planning Area, where the number of school sites reserved were below the Hong Kong Planning Standard and Guidelines (HKPSG). 

 

It was considered that the NHB was in good condition and, with proper maintenance, it could be used for many more decades. In addition, the NHB had recently been added to the historic items to be assessed by the Antiquities and Monuments Office. Its historic values are to be assessed. It is prudent to keep the NHB for the community and to fill the service gaps with the vital community services offered at the site.

 

This representation proposed two options, both involve adjustments to the internal zoning boundaries for Items A and B. Under both options, the NHB Site was to be kept and is rezoned to Government, Institution or Community (G/IC). Under the Preferred Option, Phase 1 housing development at eastern part of the WCR Site would not be affected and could be implemented as planned. The rest of the WCR Site excluding the NHB Site could be used for implementation of Phase 2 housing development.

 

Should the reason for a secondary school be well-justified to be located at the WCR Site in the future, the Alternative Option could still accommodate it. Under this option, one housing development with a bigger site and two G/IC sites were proposed.  One G/IC site was for the NHB Site, and the other was for a secondary school or other community use.

 

The two options balanced the needs for housing and the demand for community services currently delivered in NHB Site.

TPB Decision on the Representation

Despite the options presented showing the co-existence of public housing and NHB, the representation was not upheld.

 

Promising Outcomes

In parallel with the submissions made in the form of S12A planning application and representation to the TPB, over a period of three years, CA had liaised with and written to various government bureaux and departments requesting to stay at NHB or be offered an alternative site to continue to serve the community.  Even though NHB site will be used for the development of public housing and a secondary school, CA is offered an old school site at Choi Wan Estate so that they can continue to serve the Kowloon East community.