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Press Statement on "Wall Effect" allegations

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) issues today (Sunday) the following statement in response to allegations by some environmental groups that projects of the URA create a wall effect.

  • Since its inception in 2001, the URA has awarded joint venture contracts for a total of 11 projects.  The planning of all of these projects was in full compliance with the prevailing "Planning Standards and Guidelines".
  • When the Government promulgated its guidelines on air ventilation in July 2006, the superstructure works of our Vision City Project in Tsuen Wan were already nearing completion. Likewise, we embarked on the construction work of our Yeung Uk Road Project as early as February 2005 and the superstructure works is already underway.
  • Attaching a great deal of importance to environmental requirements, the URA has strictly mandated that all of its projects must conform with, if not exceed, prevailing environmental stipulations.  For this reason, even though the above Guidelines do not have any binding effect outside of the Government, the URA has decided that for its projects still under planning such as the Peel Street/Graham Street project and the Wan Chai Lee Tung Street project, reference will be made to these Guidelines in order to meet the community's environmental aspirations. Indeed, the URA has recently won a platinum award by the HK-BEAM Society for its Mount Davis 33 project at Kennedy Town for its environmental design features.
  • As a matter of fact, in our respective Master Layout Plans submitted earlier to the Town Planning Board, we have provided the results of a detailed Air Ventilation Assessment for both the Peel Street/Graham Street and Lee Tung Street projects.
  • The Peel Street/Graham Street project will see the provision of an east-west air ventilation corridor. At the same time, the buildings lining both sides of Graham Street will be redeveloped to three storeys only, while the taller buildings within the site boundaries will be set back, designed to improve the north-south air flow.
  • As regards the Lee Tung Street project, the current layout of buildings is such as to provide north-south air flow only.  Our proposed design will provide an additional east-west corridor, greatly improving the project's air ventilation.
  • The URA is tasked to implement the Urban Renewal Strategy, including a 20-year urban renewal programme costing some $250 billion. Most of the projects concerned were expected to be loss makers. In order to ensure the long term sustainability of this colossal urban renewal programme, the Government has seen fit to provide the URA with financial assistance by offering a capital injection of $10 billion and by allowing URA projects land premium exemption.  This is on the understanding that the URA, while making every effort to meet the community's environmental aspirations, will operate on prudent commercial principles and be self financing in the longer term in order to prevent the urban renewal programme from becoming a heavy burden on taxpayers.