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Opinion poll supports Central Oasis Revitalisation Project

The Central Oasis revitalisation project of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) is overwhelmingly endorsed by over 80 percent of some 6,000 people and visitors who have been asked about their views in an opinion poll for the way forward of the ex-Central Market building. The interviewed public also do not want to see an over-commercialised Central Oasis with lots of brand-name shops.

Speaking to the media after the third meeting of the Central Oasis Community Advisory Committee (COCAC) today (Monday) together with some of the COCAC members, its Chairman Professor David Lung said findings of the poll indicated that the theme of Central Oasis is the most preferred revitalisation option of the ex-Central Market.

Professor Lung outlined the work of the COCAC in relation to its terms of reference with particular reference to the conservation principles, communication, community engagement and participation, renovation works as well as the business management operation for the building.

He said that the COCAC had endorsed the results of the opinion poll and would follow its findings as far as practicable in mapping out the future uses of the project.

Overall, the respondents would like to see the Central Oasis refurbished with ample greenery, sufficient space for cultural and art activities, retail shops for cultural products and organic food, open-air dining and affordable specialty eateries for members of the public.

While the majority of respondents supported turning the rooftop of the building into a greenery public open space, they also considered it necessary to refurbish the exterior of the ex-Market building and conduct internal modifications and installations to enhance the attractiveness of the building. The respondents also want accessibility and mobility enhanced between different floor levels within the building, plus barrier-free access for people with disability.

Professor Lung noted that in determining the extent of potential alteration works required, Professor Ho Puay-Peng, Chairman of CUHK's School of Architecture will lead a team to carry out an in-depth study of the building that will help identify character defining elements and their significance for conservation in the project.

More detailed workshops engaging the community and the stakeholders, in particular on  the future design of the building, would be held in collaboration with various professional institutes and the Central & Western District Council in the coming few months, said Professor Lung.

COCAC members were also informed of the preliminary structural investigation and assessment for the ex-Central Market today.  Professor Lung likened it to that of a medical check-up which would point the way for renovation works that are deemed necessary. Findings of the nine-month structural investigation would be ready in September this year.

In the Chief Executive's Policy Address 2009, the URA has been tasked to revitalise the ex-Central Market building. The URA announced in October 2009 a preliminary plan at an estimated cost of about $500 million to renovate and refurbish the building as well as to provide greenery, a public rest and leisure area amidst the hustle and bustle of Central.