Civic Party lawmaker Tanya Chan and activists from the Government Hill Concern Group protested on Thursday against plans to build a 25-story private hospital on Bishop Hill.

Sheng Kung Hui – Chinese name of the Anglican Church – plans to build a 25-story private hospital on the site of the former 7-story Hong Kong Central Hospital on Bishop Hill. The site will cover an area of 46,659 metres and would sit between three Grade 1 historic buildings: the Bishop’s House, St Paul’s Church and the Church Guest House.

Government Hill Concern Group Andrew Lam
Tanya Chan and the Government Hill Concern Group meet with Andrew Lam (second from right). Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

The protest took place ahead of the 182nd Antiques Advisory Board (AAB) meeting on the same day. The board – a statutory body of the government that recommends historic buildings in Hong Kong for heritage listings – is set to decide whether to approve the proposed scheme.

At the meeting, Sheng Kung Hui claimed the development will create a “closer appreciation of historic buildings” and “enhanced connectivity” to the surrounding area.

Bishop House Anglican Church
Bishop’s House. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

But opponents have said that the proposed hospital will have a detrimental impact on the districts’ historical features and bring congestion to the narrow roads of Central with increased pedestrian and traffic flow.

Ahead of the group’s meeting with Antiques Advisory Board Chair Andrew Lam, activist Katty Law told reporters: “Clearly this site cannot sustain such a huge hospital and it will definitely ruin the whole city.”

Sheng Kung Hui development hospital Bishop Hill
Sheng Kung Hui development plan. Photo: GovHK.

Government Hill and Bishop’s Hill are not listed as protected sites under the Development Bureau’s 2009 “Conserving Central” scheme. The concern group recently submitted an application to the Town Planning Board, proposing the inclusion of the two sites as a protected area and imposing a building height restriction.

Sheng Kung Hui has not submitted any documents outlining the proposal’s impact on the surrounding district to the Legislative Council, according to the group. “Without this information, our hands are tied. It is very difficult for the public to provide a fair opinion,” Tanya Chan told HKFP.

Katty Law Tanya Chan
Activist Katty Law (left) and Tanya Chan (right). Photo: Jennifer Creery/HKFP.

‘Another private hospital’

Chan said that the proposed hospital shows that Sheng Kung Hui has not taken accessibility to the site and its surrounding environment into consideration.

She added: “Definitely I do believe that the government should do more to explain to the public why we need another private hospital on Hong Kong island, which serve[s] only limited people and would likely bring lots of adverse effects or influence in the vicinity.”

“You can see that the number of private hospitals is unevenly distributed in Hong Kong. Most of the population are living in the New Territories, but they only have a few private hospitals.”

“Almost half of the private hospitals [are] now located on Hong Kong [Island], which in some cases do produce some traffic jams in that vicinity, so I urge the government, especially the Food and Health Bureau, to come up with a sensible policy regarding the distribution of beds of private hospitals.”

The Food and Health Bureau currently do not have a policy regarding the distribution of private hospitals in Hong Kong.

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.