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Kwun Tong Town Centre : URA Commences Largest Project

The Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Friday) announced the commencement of its biggest ever project - redevelopment of the Kwun Tong Town Centre - by conducting a freezing survey of the estimated 4,500 residents who will now have the long-awaited opportunity to improve their living standard through compensation and rehousing.

The Kwun Tong town centre which occupies a site area of over 5.3 hectares, was built in the early 1960s and badly needs redevelopment.  Local residents suffering from leaking roofs and walls, poor hygiene, clogged sewage and everyday traffic chaos have been anxiously urging for early implementation since the project was first announced by the then Land Development Corporation in 1998.

Speaking at today's media briefing to announce details of the freezing survey, District Development Director of the URA, Mr Joseph Lee, said the huge project would pose a formidable challenge to the URA in all aspects of urban renewal.

He said: "Our greatest concern is to ensure that the residents' and shop operators' rights to compensation and rehousing are fairly looked after and, at the same time, that every effort is made to help them overcome any family or personal problems that may occur.  Urban Renewal is not just about compensation but, more importantly, about dealing with the human issues."

"We also have to ensure that as a town centre providing daily necessities of life, such as transport and clinic services, to the 600,000 people of Kwun Tong, the place will go on functioning throughout the acquisition and redevelopment period.  It would be a nightmare for everyone if the town centre were brought to a standstill overnight," he commented.

"This will take a huge amount of careful planning and coordination.  Above all, this will need the support, co-operation and forbearance from the entire Kwun Tong community," he said.

He therefore stressed the importance of maintaining close liaison with all stakeholders, particularly the affected residents, the District Council and Government departments concerned.

"We shall hold a total of 66 briefing sessions for the thousands of residents and shop operators to explain to them what will happen in the weeks and months ahead with regard to the statutory process of town planning approval before acquisition can begin; and we want to listen to their views.  We shall also get together with the District Council, Government departments and NGOs to discuss many practical issues of mutual concern," Mr Lee said.

"We attach such great importance to the Kwun Tong project that we have, for the first time, set up a regional office situated within the project site so that we can meet and talk with the locals everyday.  The scale of this regional office is considerably larger than the URA neighbourhood centres that normally serve other redevelopment projects," he added.

About 200 URA staff members have been deployed for the three-day survey starting today.  Members of the public wish to make enquiries about the survey can call the URA hotline 2588 2333.

When asked about the submission of planning application to the Town Planning Board and the content, Mr Lee said this would take place in about three weeks' time.

He said the URA has carried out four rounds of public consultation in the past two years, gathering a large amount of public views and suggestions.  "We are incorporating a lot of the suggestions in the final plan and design which would be ready for submission soon," he said.

Also meeting the press today is Mr Kwok Lit-tung, Director of the Christian Family Service Centre (CFSC) which has taken up the task of setting up an urban renewal social service team to provide professional social work services for the affected residents.

The CSFC has a long and proven record of assisting residents affected by redevelopment projects.

Mr Kwok said the role of his team was to ensure that a people-oriented approach would be adopted for those in genuine need of help.  He said the CFSC has assigned a 4-member team working full-time for the residents.

"The CFSC have been servicing Kwun Tong for 50 years and are very familiar with the district.  Our approach will be to attend to every detail of their needs.  It's always the details that count," he said.

The Kwun Tong social service team is currently working at a temporary office located at Ground floor shop No. 6 of Ping On House, Wo Lok Estate, Kwun Tong.  The team can also be reached at 3580 8841.  Later this year, they will move to the URA's regional office at G/F 71 Hip Wo Street, Kwun Tong.