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Milestone for Building Rehabilitation and Best Rehab Building Award

The Chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA), Mr Edward Cheng, said that the URA would set aside more resources to assist owners of old buildings to carry out building inspection, as the pace of rehabilitation is expected to accelerate when Government's mandatory building inspection scheme is put in place.

The URA organised a ceremony today (Thursday) to mark the completion of rehabilitation works for 200 buildings involving 20,000 domestic units under its voluntary rehabilitation schemes. The ceremony also saw the presentation of awards to the 'best rehabilitated buildings' following a widely-publicized competition.

Attending the ceremony as the Guest of Honour was the Hon. Michael Suen, Secretary for Housing, Planning and Lands. In addition to the Chairman, Mr. Edward Cheng, other URA Board members present included Professor David Lung, Mr Francis Chau, Mr Walter Chan, Mr Aaron Wan and Mr Stephen Yip; the Director of the Buildings Department, Mr Cheung Hau-wai who is also a member of the Board; as well as URA's Managing Director, Mr Billy Lam.

Mr Suen said: "The URA adopts a 4Rs strategy to address the problem of urban decay, where rehabilitation is an important component. It undertakes a series of new initiatives since 2003 to promote a culture of building rehabilitation."

"The URA has been able to encourage and assist owners of about 25,000 units in over 300 buildings in the nine target areas to undertake rehabilitation work whereby living conditions of the residents have been or would be improved and market value of the properties would be enhanced. So far, rehabilitation works for 20,000 units have already been completed with notable results" he added.

Mr Suen also expressed appreciation of the revitalisation effect generated by the colour design for a cluster of rehabilitated buildings within the vicinity.

Mr Edward Cheng said: "The Government is actively working on measures to promote building management and maintenance. The URA would set aside more sources to strengthen our work in building rehabilitation so as to cope with the new initiatives to be implemented by the Government. With these complimentary efforts, we hope that a culture of building rehabilitation would be nourished in the community."

To further promote the culture of building care, the URA has recently organized an award competition among the buildings rehabilitated with the assistance of URA.   Mr Cheng described the response to the contest as particularly encouraging with 84 buildings taking part.

Chaired by URA Board member Professor David Lung, an adjudication panel comprising representatives from the Hong Kong Institute of Surveyors, Hong Kong Institute of Architects, Hong Kong Institute of Housing Managers and Hong Kong Institution of Engineers selected the award winners under three major categories:  the Best Comprehensive Rehabilitated Building, the Best Improved Façade and the Best Improved Quality of Living.

On the URA rehabilitation schemes, Mr Cheng noted that the URA had, in parallel, implemented a package of complementary measures with a view to providing a comprehensive range of services to owners' corporations.  These included initiating with 17 banks to offer preferential mortgage loan terms for rehabilitated properties and providing a three-year, 50 percent third party liability insurance subsidy for rehabilitated buildings.

"Building rehabilitation is an integral part of the URA's 4Rs strategy - Redevelopment, Rehabilitation, Revitalisation and pReservation - for a holistic approach to carry out urban regeneration in the old districts," noted Mr. Cheng.

"This is an all-win situation: the owners enjoy a better home and higher property value; the banks enjoy the prospect of a re-invigorated market of older properties; and the URA makes inroads in its mission to fight urban decay," Mr Cheng added.

Amongst the 84 participating buildings, two grand prizes have been awarded to the winners. They are Tai Kung Building in Tai Kok Tsui and Tung Sing Building in Wan Chai.