Tung agrees to visit threatened village site

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 18 November, 2004, 12:00am

Legislators hope to protect areas in Kowloon East from development

A group of politicians will show Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa around an ensemble of historic remnants in Kowloon East as part of their renewed call for the government to protect the city's last walled village in an urban area.

The campaign follows Cheung Kong (Holdings') latest proposal to the Planning Department to build four high-rise blocks over the moat in front of Nga Tsin Wai, the 13th-century walled village in Wong Tai Sin. The developer has already pulled down some of the houses it has acquired at the site.

Cheung Kong originally planned to turn the 50,000 sq ft walled village into a new residential and commercial project. However, the plan has been delayed for years because about 200 indigenous villagers, who occupy about 30 per cent of the properties, have refused to leave. The latest proposal was seen as Cheung Kong's attempt to speed up their development plan.

Federation of Trade Unions legislator Chan Yuen-han, who has fought against the demolition of Nga Tsin Wai for years, said she did not support Cheung Kong's latest proposal but would back the company if it were to take its building plan to a neighbouring site.

'If the developer is given a plot outside the village for their projects, they should also have the responsibility to preserve the village. We have to think about how the livelihood here can be benefited in any case,' she said at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday with village representatives.

The villagers, who have been consulted about the proposal by the Home Affairs Department in recent months, have also complained that the four blocks would affect their view and entrance.

Earlier this year residents submitted another proposal, with the help of architects and academics, to shift the development to a car park behind the village. But the park had already been designated to another development.

Ms Chan said she and some other politicians had begun to plan a heritage tour for Mr Tung after he admitted to legislators that he knew little about the heritage sites in Kowloon East.

The two-hour tour will tentatively cover the remnants of the former Kowloon walled city, Nga Tsin Wai, and the old Kai Tai Airport site. A helicopter will be used to view the mountain ridge in Kowloon.

Ms Chan said Mr Tung had accepted their invitation and that the tour would be arranged by early next month.

Cheung Kong was unavailable for comment yesterday.