The Town Planning Board has conditionally approved a plan to redevelop the historic Garden Centre in Sham Shui Po on Friday.

The building is the headquarters of the bakery and confectionery maker Garden Company. Last July the company unveiled plans to turn the building into a 25-storey commercial building, which will contain restaurants, shops and offices.

Garden centre bakery sham shui po
Garden Centre. File photo: Wikimedia Commons.

The company, which was founded in 1926, first bought the site as an industrial building in 1935. The current building was constructed in 1959.

The building was rated a Grade 2 historic building in March, meaning that it was a building of “special merit” and efforts should be made to preserve it. However, the status does not provide any legal protection and the owner can apply to redevelop the building.

On Friday, the Town Planning Board approved the company’s redevelopment plans on the condition that five elements must be preserved: the clock face, the red wall behind it, the two logos and the word “Garden” on the sign.

garden centre redevelopment
An artist’s rendition of the redeveloped Garden Centre. Photo: Town Planning Board.

The Garden Company originally did not retain the iconic elements of the building in its redevelopment plan. After comments from the public and the Antiquities Advisory Board, the company revised the plans to include the clock face and the logos.

The Planning Department, the Commissioner for Heritage’s Office and the Antiquities and Monuments Office have said they did not oppose the redevelopment plan.

Concern group “Saving HK Heritages” expressed anger at the Town Planning Board’s decision, saying that it ignored the building’s historical value and opposition from the public.

The group said the building was representative of post-WWII Hong Kong architecture and a landmark of Sham Shui Po, and the redevelopment plan was contrary to the principles of heritage preservation.

It added that the Town Planning Board ignored 390 submissions received during its public consultation, all of which opposed the redevelopment.

Holmes Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press. He covers local news with a focus on law, politics, and social movements. He studied law and literature at the University of Hong Kong.