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Commencement of Nga Tsin Wai Village Project

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Tuesday) announced the commencement of the Nga Tsin Wai Village project in Wong Tai Sin, by ways of an innovative preservation-cum-redevelopment approach.

About 50 staff of the Authority today conducted an occupancy survey at the village to ascertain the number of households and their occupancy status for the purpose of compensation and rehousing.

"The Salvation Army Urban Renewal Social Service Team together with our front-line staff will pay special attention to those households who may face personal or family problems during the redevelopment process and provide assistance to them wherever possible," a URA spokesman said.

Occupying a site area of about 49,900 square feet, two-thirds of the village houses in the Nga Tsin Wai Village have been demolished by private owners over the past two decades. The remaining structures are very decrepit and the living conditions are poor due to the lack of proper maintenance and sanitation facilities. It is estimated that about 60 households are residing in 57 dilapidated village houses, of which less than 12 per cent are considered by heritage experts to be original.

The preservation and redevelopment of the Nga Tsin Wai Village, which is estimated to cost approximately $1.24 billion, is one of the redevelopment projects announced but not yet commenced by the former Land Development Corporation in 1998.  Over the past years, the affected residents have repeatedly urged the URA for its early implementation so as to improve their living environment.
 
Depending on the work progress, the URA intends to issue acquisition offers to individual property owners in about three months' time.  Upon completion of the property acquisition, the URA will make compensation or rehousing arrangements for the tenants concerned.

In response to community concerns and aspirations, the URA is committed to preserving the remaining authentic historic relics and recreating the village ambience as far as practicable. During an earlier stage of public consultation, the villagers and the Wong Tai Sin District Council have requested the URA to preserve three relics of the village, namely the village gatehouse, the embedded stone tablet and the Tin Hau Temple. However, the Authority has decided to extend its conservation plan beyond these three relics following a URA-commissioned study in January 2006 by a conservation consultant team led by an internationally renowned Malaysian conservation expert, Laurence Loh, who is also a member of conservation expert panel of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

Mr Loh recommended adopting an innovative concept of "Conservation by Design" to achieve a "conservation-paramount" objective to preserve as many authentic structures and elements as possible whilst designing and recreating a walled village park to resurrect the ambience of the 600 years of village history whilst residential redevelopment could proceed in parallel.

To translate the concept into detailed design, the Authority then commissioned an architectural and landscape design consultant team led by Professor Bernard Lim of the Department of Architecture, Chinese University of Hong Kong, to produce a preservation-cum-redevelopment conceptual design in February 2007.

Under the current scheme, the central axis of the village with eight authentic village houses in its path, as well as the overall pattern of pedestrian lanes would be preserved as the core of the village, in addition to preserving the three relics as requested by the villagers and the District Council. Around this core area, a conservation village park designed to resurrect the ambience of the village could be constructed. 

According to the "conservation-paramount" design, the residential towers to be built would be pushed outward towards the northern and southern perimeters as far as possible.  This would mean setting the towers about 120 feet apart, thus leaving at least 60 per cent of the site area open for the conservation park.

The design scheme also recommended that the residential towers be lifted up to provide a vertical clearance of some  45 feet from ground level so as to free up a maximum area of ground level space to achieve "visual relief" for the conservation park.

A URA spokesman said: "We are very gratified to see that, after examining the above proposals, both the villagers and the Wong Tai Sin District Council have expressed strong support for the proposal and urged for its expeditious implementation."

"Preservation and redevelopment are not necessarily conflicting or mutually exclusive. We hope to make this a fine example of preservation and redevelopment going hand in hand in a successful manner," the spokesman said.

According to the current Outline Zoning Plan, the maximum permissible plot ratios for domestic and non-domestic uses are respectively 7.5 and 1.5.

With the announcement of the Nga Tsin Wai Village project, the URA has commenced 33 redevelopment projects since its inception in 2001, of which 8 are in association with the Hong Kong Housing Society. These projects involve a total development cost of about $64 billion, bringing direct benefit to about 18,000 residents.

Members of the public are welcomed to call the URA hotline at 2588 2333 for general enquiries about the project. Affected residents may also contact the Salvation Army Social Service Team at 2391 3483 for assistance and information.

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