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URA Chairman, Mr Edwad Cheng (centre), Mr Chan Tak-chor, Chairman of the Central & Western DC (2nd from left), Mr Barry Cheung, Chairman of the Central and Western DAC (2nd from right), Mr Billy Lam, URA Managing Director (1st from left) and Mr Yuen Pun-keung, Member of the Central and Western DC (1st from right) at the workshop.
Members of the community actively participated in the discussion.
Graham Street: Rooftop of an old building collapsed in late 2005.
Graham Street : Dilapidated Buildings
Graham Street : Poor environmental hygiene
A scene of busy and vibrant stepped Graham Street is recapped.
Recreation of the low-rise buiding characteristics along Graham Street.
Conserving a few pre-war buildings at Graham Street is one of the topics discussed.

Community workshop on Peel Street /Graham Street (H18) Project

Views and aspirations of the community are today (Saturday) articulated in a workshop on the future design of the Peel Street/Graham Street project of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) in the Central and Western District.
 
Jointly organized by the Central & Western District Advisory Committee (DAC) of the URA and the Concern Group on Urban Renewal Projects of the Central & Western District Council, the workshop is part of URA's ongoing efforts to collect public views on the future design of this project.

Mr Edward Cheng, Chairman of the URA Board, described the workshop as an effective way to enable a wide cross-section of the community to actively participate in shaping an important part of their future habitat.

"Through this workshop, the URA will not only have a firm grasp of the vision and aspirations of the local community but also establish a much closer mutual understanding between all interested parties and the URA on the constraints and opportunities of this project," Mr Cheng said.

"This is not simply a URA project, but one for the local community which is full of interesting historic features.  It is therefore essential that we forge a close partnership with all of our stakeholders.  We will make every possible attempt to come up with a development plan that will reflect their suggestions and aspirations."

"The URA's design concept aims to redevelop the area in a holistic and coherent manner, so that the existing traditional streetscape and local cultural character may be preserved and the old area revitalized with synergy and vibrancy."

Comprising three sites with an area of about 0.54 hectare, the redevelopment area is generally characterized by buildings with commercial and residential uses above ground level.

"As with our other major projects", Mr Cheng said, "here we adopt our 4R strategy of redevelopment, rehabilitation, preservation and revitalization to improve the living environment as well as provide more greenery and quality open space.

"In addition to preserving the local physical street character and its atmosphere that features a variety of hawking activities, we aim to strengthen the pedestrian linkage and create focal points from east to west, connecting with the various historic spots, such as Pak Tsz Lane, in the vicinity of the redevelopment area."

"Our initial thinking also includes the option of conserving a few pre-war buildings at Graham Street which will be fully rehabilitated for public use. Street beautification works will also be carried out to retain street vibrancy through promoting public arts, performances and exhibitions in open-air venues," Mr Cheng added.

Mr Barry Cheung, Chairman of the Central & Western DAC and a URA Board member, said the workshop provided an early opportunity for participants to discuss possible options for the initial development design concept.

"Furthermore, participants are able to appreciate the practical problems inherent in the design planning process, such as the choice between building height and open space as well as the difficult task of integrating the new with the old," he said.

During the workshop, the participants divided themselves into five groups. Discussion of each group was facilitated by an academic staff member of the University of Hong Kong. Each group eventually came up with its own suggestions as to how best to go about the project.

Over 60 participants took part in the discussion today, including Mr Chan Tak-chor, Chairman of the Central & Western District Council, other community leaders, residents' representatives, members of professional institutes and officials from various government departments.

As part of the URA's endeavour to identify views and aspirations of the community on the project design, an exhibition featuring the initial design concept of the project was also staged at "The Center". Over 1,500 visitors have been recorded with more than 500 completing a questionnaire on their expectations over the project during the two-week exhibition beginning on 12 June.

"We would consolidate views and suggestions from the workshop as well as those we have collected earlier during our exhibition," Mr Cheung said.

The Peel Street / Graham Street project is a redevelopment projects announced but not yet commenced by the URA's predecessor, Land Development Corporation, in 1998. The URA has included the current project in its first Five-year Corporate Plan for priority consideration and the intention being to commence it before the end of March 2007.