URA commences planning for two projects in Ma Tau Kok
The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) commenced today (Friday) the statutory planning procedures for two new redevelopment projects in Ma Tau Kok to improve the living environment of about 450 residents, giving an added impetus to facelift the district where building rehabilitation has been making significant progress over the years.
Speaking at a press briefing to announce details of the new projects, Executive Director (Planning & Development) of the URA, Ms Iris Tam, said: "The projects, though relatively small in size and being the first batch to be implemented in the district, will complement the voluntary building rehabilitation efforts initiated by the Authority in the area over the past three years covering some 90 buildings involving 7,200 flats."
The two project sites, one located at Chi Kiang Street/Ha Heung Road and the other at Pak Tai Street/Mok Cheong Street, cover a total area of about 18,300 square feet (1,700 square metres). Each is presently occupied by five buildings that were all built in the 1950's and are in a generally dilapidated condition. The buildings are mostly served by single staircases with no lifts and there are unauthorized structures causing concerns on safety and environmental hygiene.
In accordance with section 23 of the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance, a URA notice announcing the commencement of planning for the projects is published in the Gazette today, she said.
Within the next two months, plans delineating the boundaries of the two projects plus a general description will be put on display for public inspection at the URA headquarters (10/F, Low Block, Grand Millennium Plaza, 181 Queen's Road Central, Sheung Wan), URA's offices at G/F., 71 Hip Wo Street, Kwun Tong and G/F., 68 Bedford Road, Tai Kok Tsui and the Public Enquiry Service Centre of the Kowloon City District Office.
"The URA will then have to consider all public submissions collected in the two-month consultation period before submitting the development plans, together with unwithdrawn public submissions to the Secretary for Development for consideration," Ms Tam said.
If approval is eventually granted by the Secretary for Development, the URA would proceed with acquisition of the properties and re-housing for the tenants, which are estimated to cost about $ 470 million at current prices. Adding construction and interest to the budget, the total development cost is estimated to reach $860 million, she said.
The URA's initial proposal is to redevelop the sites to provide about 210 residential units and 27,600 square feet (2,560 square metres) of commercial floor area, scheduled for completion by 2014.
Also speaking at the press briefing, District Development Director of the URA, Mr Joseph Lee said: "The two projects affect a total of 121 property interests. It is estimated that there are about 175 households comprising about 450 residents in the two sites, but the actual number has yet to be ascertained in a freezing survey conducted by the URA today."
Apart from the affected residents, the community would also benefit from the redevelopments. Both projects at Chi Kiang Street and Pak Tai Street would use building set-back design to facilitate pedestrian flow and introduce street greening. The former will even extend green landscaping beyond the project boundary to the nearby open area beneath the East Kowloon Corridor to soften the harshness of the oppressive and heavily trafficked environment.
About 50 URA staff members were deployed to conduct the freezing survey to ascertain the actual number of households and the occupancy status. "The URA will arrange briefing sessions shortly to explain to the affected owners and tenants the planning approval procedure and, if approved, the acquisition and compensation arrangements," Mr Lee added.
An urban renewal social service team commissioned by the URA and staffed by professional social workers of The Salvation Army will provide counselling and practical assistance that the residents may need. The contact number of the social service team is 2391 3483. Affected residents can also visit the URA's Neighbourhood Centre at G/F, 68 Bedford Road, Tai Kok Tsui in person or call the URA's Hotline at 2588 2333 for enquiries.
The two new projects bring the number of redevelopment projects that the URA has commenced since January 2002 to 36. These include eight undertaken in association with the Hong Kong Housing Society. The total development cost of all projects is estimated at about $68 billion.