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URA Chairman Mr Barry Cheung addressing the community workshop
Four initial design concepts for the Staunton Street project

URA holds community workshop on Staunton Street/Wing Lee Street project

A Staunton Street location where Dr. Sun Yat-sen was baptized 124 years ago was a centre point of brainstorming in a community participation workshop held by the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) today (Saturday).

The location is situated within the URA's Staunton Street and Wing Lee Street redevelopment site. Although the American Congregational Mission Preaching House where Dr. Sun was baptised in 1883 and also lived from 1884 to 1886 is long gone, URA has decided that the location is of important historic value and should be commemorated as a monumental relic. The workshop is part of a public consultation exercise on how best to proceed with the commemoration as well as dealing with other community features of the project.

The redevelopment site which is one of the 25 projects announced but not yet commenced by the former Land Development Corporation measures about 3,560 square metres. Standing on the site at present are 24 old, dilapidated buildings mostly built after World War II, which accommodate about 130 households. Both the residents and the Central and Western District Council have urged the URA to speed up redevelopment of the site.

The URA formally announced commencement of the project in March 2003 but then had to hold the project in abeyance until earlier this year when a judicial review on the development boundary and the ensuing process of modifying the boundary were completed.

With the revised planning brief recently approved by the Town Planning Board, about 80 people, including residents living in the projects site, District Councillors, heritage experts, university professors and students, and government officials today gathered at the workshop to give their views on the detailed design and features of the project.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the workshop, URA Chairman Mr Barry Cheung said: "Every redevelopment projects represents a fresh challenge for the URA. As project sites are inevitably located in old districts, there is always the possibility of a unique history linked to each site. Some of them may even have historic value of monumental significance to which we must give due respect in planning and design, as in the case of the Staunton Street project."

"As we understand it, the site's association with Dr, Sun's history forms part of the existing Sun Yat-sen Trail set up by the Central and Western District Council. Not far from the project site is another point of the Trail commemorating the original location of The Central School which is the predecessor of the Queen's College now in Causeway Bay.

"At present, there is only a commemorative plaque standing on the Staunton Street pavement. We want to devote some open space of the future project site for a larger and better monumental design. But first, we need to listen to the advice by the locals and the heritage experts," Mr. Cheung said.

"Apart from the heritage task, we are also keen to listen carefully to what the local community has to say in making use of the opportunity of redevelopment to contribute to a better living environment for the neighbourhood as well as revitalization of the area in the vicinity," Mr Cheung added.

During the workshop, the participants divided themselves into six groups. Discussion of each group was facilitated by an academic staff member of the University of Hong Kong. Each group eventually came up with its own suggestions as to how best to go about the project and their preference for different options.

"We would consolidate views and suggestions from the workshop and take them into account in the preparation of the master layout plan as far as practicable," Mr Cheung said.