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Restoration order for school buildings

FOUR buildings at the former St Mary's School, where Chinese writer Eileen Chang was educated, are to be restored to their original appearance after protests from nearby residents.

A bell tower, recognized as one of the city's protected cultural relics in the 128-year-old former school, was to have remained intact, said Fang Lei with Shanghai Urban Planning Administrative Bureau's Changning District branch.

Now the other four buildings, although half-dismantled, have been designated as preserved buildings, which means they can be moved but no part of them can be destroyed, the urban planning authorities said.

The former school had seven buildings in all. Two were demolished in 2005 to make way for urban construction. Residents had asked that they should be restored in a letter to the government last month.

While she was pleased with yesterday's decision, Yang Yuxian, one of the residents campaigning to save the school, was disappointed that it didn't cover restoration of the demolished buildings.

"The school needs to be protected as a whole to maintain its atmosphere," Yang said.

A sheltered walkway connecting the buildings will be reconstructed and lawn grasses as well as trees, including a ginkgo tree that had been removed by the developer, will be restored to preserve the appearance of the school area.

The developer, Orient Overseas, whose headquarters are in Hong Kong, got land usage approval for a 60,000-square-meter area near Zhongshan Park in 2005.


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