SCMP Ng Yuk-hang and Anita Lam
Residents in Happy Valley fear that their views will be further blocked after the Hong Kong Sanatorium and Hospital was given the go-ahead yesterday to build two 20-storey extensions.
The hospital, which had planned to build a 38-storey extension in 2008, filed a judicial review in November that year after the Town Planning Board imposed a 12-floor height restriction on all new buildings in Happy Valley.
This month, the hospital reached a settlement with the board, and yesterday the Court of First Instance ruled that the judicial review was cancelled.
Minutes of the board’s meeting on September 10, which were released to the public last week, show that the board had agreed to the hospital’s new plan to split the new building into two.
The buildings, to be named Phase 3A and 4, will be 115 metres and 89 metres high, respectively. Phase 3A will feature a proton therapy clinic for cancer patients, while Phase 4 will house operating theatres, wards, clinics and a roof garden. Half of the garden will be covered by a glass roof, according to the minutes.
The hospital told the board that Phase 4 needed to be 89 metres high because it had to be horizontally connected with existing buildings and Phase 3A. It also needed to allow plenty of headroom for operating theatres.
The hospital’s deputy medical superintendent, Dr Joseph Chan Woon-tong, said yesterday the agreement with the board was “a ray of hope”.
“The floor area we have now is not enough for future development. Any improvement would be worth considering,” he said.
He said that under the hospital’s preliminary plan, the two new buildings would also include classrooms and wards for its nursing school, outpatient clinics and an auditorium. The two buildings would have about 1,000 beds in total, he added.
Chan said the hospital did not have other expansion plans yet.
District councillor Michael Mak Kwok-fung said local residents would oppose the expansion plan.
“I am very disappointed at their agreement,” he said. “The new buildings will still have more than 20 floors, and will definitely affect the appearance of the neighbourhood. They will block the views from some of the apartments.”
Mak was also worried that the new buildings would draw more patients, adding to traffic congestion in the area.
“Wong Nai Chung Road is quite congested, especially during race nights. I am not sure if the roads can handle even more traffic,” he said.
Mak said while it would be difficult to protest at this stage, he hoped the hospital would plan better to avoid traffic congestion.
A Transport Department official told the board at the September 10 meeting that traffic would be improved following the project, as the Phase 4 building would create a new access point on Wong Nai Chung Road, reducing traffic at the Shan Kwong Road junction.