Residents help to pick areas for revamp in Kowloon City
Three dilapidated areas in Kowloon City covering about 30 streets have been identified as priority redevelopment zones under a plan backed by residents and district councillors.
The zones have been chosen under a new redevelopment policy under which communities are encouraged to get involved in selection rather than being dictated to by the Urban Renewal Authority.
'When we first approached residents for this preliminary plan, we had no agenda set and we were open to their views,' Kowloon City District Urban Renewal Forum chairman Greg Wong Chak-yan said yesterday, releasing the preliminary proposals.
'In the upcoming second round of consultation, we will look at how the plan would impact on certain social groups such as ethnic minorities and the new immigrants ... if a renewal plan is no good for them, we can stop it,' Wong, an engineer, said.
The Development Bureau chose Kowloon City for the first forum set up under the new policy.
It has more than 1,000 buildings older than 50 years, the most in Hong Kong, as well as the highest proportion of ethnic minorities, 8.9 per cent compared to 6.4 per cent in Hong Kong overall.
The priority redevelopment areas identified include the area known as 'Thirteen Streets' and the adjacent 'Five Streets' in To Kwa Wan; eight streets with their names all starting with the word 'Wan'; and the area surrounding Kowloon City Road and Lok Shan Road.
The buildings are all old tenements packed with subdivided flats.
Although the forum said both private developers and the Urban Renewal Authority could take up the renewal job in future, the development potential on these sites has been fully exploited, meaning the profit margin for private developers would not be great.
In Thirteen Streets, another challenge is to relocate the 200 car repair workshops operating on the ground floors of about 80 buildings.
In the eight 'Wan' streets, property acquisition and management would also face the problem of private streets, which are rarely found in Hong Kong.
Wong said the forum would look for solutions in the second round of consultation, starting next week.
The forum also decided the area near Prince Edward Road East is more suitable for restoration than redevelopment.