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Housing Society and Urban Renewal Authority Jointly Launch Revitalization/Preservation Project in Wan Chai

The Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) today (31 March) announced the launch of a revitalization cum preservation project in conjunction with the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in Wan Chai Stone Nullah Lane, Hing Wan Street and King Sing Street at the cost of about $100 million.   Besides retaining some of the buildings with historic value and special architectural design, HKHS also intends to develop the area along the theme of tea and medicine in line with its historical background of tea trade and medical services.

The project area covers 9 tenement blocks, of which 72-74A Stone Nullah Lane (Blue House) and 2-8 Hing Wan Street were built in the 1920's, whilst 8 King Sing Street in the 1950's.  HKHS and URA will carry out stabilization and rehabilitation works for the Blue House and the buildings of 2-8 Hing Wan Street after completing the statutory planning procedures and property acquisition.  8 King Sing Street will be demolished for creating an open space featuring a special cultural atmosphere.

"Blue House has high historic value as it was the original site of the first hospital 'Wah To Hospital' built in the 1870's in Wan Chai.  In terms of architectural design, the balcony-type tenement block Blue House and 2-8 Hing Wan Street for its European Art Deco style have their own characteristics.  They are both the few remaining buildings of the same kind in Wan Chai.  Through the collaboration with URA in this revitalization cum preservation project, HKHS intends to retain the special architectural elements of the Blue House and 2-8 Hing Wan Street, and adopt its indigenous features of tea and medicine as the theme of the area.  It is hoped that the place could become a tourist destination with an open space for the public and the tourists," HKHS General Manager (Planning & Development) Mr Daniel Lau said at the press conference.

HKHS and URA will invite representatives of the URA Wan Chai District Advisory Committee and the Wan Chai District Council to assist in taking the project forward.  Consultation will be conducted with the local residents, professionals, academics and other interested parties, and recommendations will be made on the uses basing on the designated theme.

The project has been gazetted for commencement of planning in accordance with section 23 of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance today.  HKHS and URA will submit application to the Town Planning Board (TPB) shortly.

The development scheme plan which delineates the boundary of the project, together with a general description, will be put on display for public inspection at the head offices of HKHS and URA, URA Neighbourhood Centre in Wan Chai and the Wan Chai District Office within the next two months.

With the consent of the TPB and approval of the Chief Executive-in-Council, acquisition of the two private property interests, and rehousing or compensation for about 30 households living in Government and private buildings within the project site will follow.  The estimated cost of acquisition and rehousing is about $20 million.

Starting today, HKHS will carry out a three-day occupancy survey among the affected households to determine the number of residents and their occupancy status.
To ensure that the affected owners and tenants are fully informed of the planning acquisition procedures and compensation policies, HKHS will conduct a briefing session on 3 April 2006 to explain the salient issues.

In addition, HKHS has provided a telephone hotline 2839 7138 to answer enquiries from the affected residents.  For enquiries relating to the planning procedures of the project, parties concerned can call the URA's hotline at 2588 2333.  Meanwhile, HKHS has appointed The Salvation Army Urban Renewal Social Service Team to provide counseling service and assistance to the affected owners and tenants.

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