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MOU signed between URA and HKHS

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) and the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) signed a Memorandum of Understanding today (Thursday) to enter into a long-term strategic partnership for the implementation of urban renewal projects.

Under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), HKHS will initially focus on seven projects clustered in Sham Shui Po and Shaukiwan and will undertake to implement them in line with existing policies of the URA.

The MOU also states that co-operation between the two organisations may, in due course, extend to other projects.

The MOU further provides that like URA, HKHS may rehabilitate or preserve buildings in a project site as well as redevelop them.

Both organisations hailed the partnering as a breakthrough in expediting the work of urban renewal and bringing about improvement to the living conditions of thousands of residents in old and dilapidated buildings.

Putting their signatures to the MOU at the ceremony today were Dr. Lau Wah-sum, Chairman of URA, and Mr. Chung Shui-ming, Chairman of HKHS. Mr. John Tsang, Permanent Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands (Planning and Lands), and members of the boards of both statutory bodies were also present at the ceremony.

Dr. Lau described the MOU as a milestone event in the development of urban renewal work in Hong Kong. "Co-operation between us will produce a synergistic impact that enhances the efforts of both organisations in achieving our respective public missions," he said.

"While some projects will be undertaken in association with the HKHS, URA will not slow down the pace of its corporate programme. We will do everything within our resources to keep up the momentum." Dr. Lau added.

"We are most pleased that the Housing Society can help expedite urban renewal work by means of non-profit and non-government resources under the present financial conditions of the Government," remarked Mr Chung.

Mr Chung further said the Housing Society expected that its abundant experience in the Urban Improvement Scheme as well as effective and prudent financial management could serve as a new impetus to urban renewal.

While the URA retains the statutory responsibilities for urban renewal under the URA Ordinance, the HKHS will undertake the acquisition of properties required for the project, re-housing of tenants affected and the subsequent construction and the disposal of the new buildings at the site. It will also be responsible for all costs involved as well as the financial outcome of the projects.

Among other things, HKHS will follow the URA's existing practice of providing professional service with social service teams to take care of the needs of aged residents and others who may be in need of special care and help as a result of the implementation of a project. It will also similarly take advice from district advisory committees on the views and aspirations of local district residents affected by the project.

The two organisations will consult each other on the time-frame of project implementation so that the projects will dovetail with, and be included in, the overall schedule of the URA's Five-Year Corporate Plan which is rolled forward each year and submitted to the Financial Secretary for approval.

To ensure smooth co-operation and remove any teething problems at the initial stage, a liaison committee with representatives from both organisations will be set up to monitor and resolve operational issues.

Co-operation between the two organisations goes back a long way, dating back to the days of the Land Development Corporation, the predecessor of URA, when HKHS provided re-housing units for the Tsuen Wan Town Centre and Kennedy Town projects in 1997. Co-operation has resumed since the inception of the URA with the provision of re-housing units by HKHS for current URA projects.

The publication by Government of its Review of the Institutional Framework for Public Housing Report in June this year provided further impetus for the two organisations to reach a strategic agreement with the common aim to facilitate Hong Kong's urban renewal and optimise the use of resources and expertise.