Demolition decision looms for Shamshuipo estate

PUBLISHED : Friday, 24 March, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 24 March, 2006, 12:00am

About 15,000 residents at a 46-year-old Shamshuipo public estate may learn by the end of next week if they face rehousing.

Chan Wai-ming, a Shamshuipo District Council member, said yesterday he had learned from housing officials that the Housing Authority's strategic planning committee would meet next Thursday to discuss a proposal to demolish So Uk Estate, which is his constituency.

The move follows media reports that a Housing Department survey revealed serious structural problems among the 16 tower blocks of the estate and that further repairs would be ineffective and a waste of public money. It is understood one of the options would see demolition starting in 2008 and lasting three years.

Mr Chan said residents generally welcomed news of the demolition proposal, which they felt was long overdue.

'Of all public estates in Shamshuipo, only So Uk Estate is over 40 years old. Other estates such as Shek Kip Mei Estate and Pak Tin Estates have been included in the redevelopment project and works are already going on,' he said.

'From residents' perspective, they hope to see an improvement in their living environment. Also, after So Uk Estate is demolished, the use of the vacant land will offer many options. For example, we can either use it to build public housing or sell the land to private developers to generate much needed income for the Treasury.'

Mr Chan said a residents' meeting will be held tonight to discuss the matter and some residents will go to the Housing Authority next Thursday to voice their views.

'On top of intra-district rehousing, we need to solve the problem of elderly residents, who make up about 40 per cent of the estate's population. Are there sufficient single or two-person public housing flats in Shamshuipo for this group?' he said.

'Moreover, there is the issue of rent. In So Uk Estate, it is on average $40 per square metre, whereas in other estates in the Shamshuipo area, it is $63 to $64 per square metre. This may pose a problem for those families who are earning about $8,000 to $9,000 a month and are neither CSSA households nor eligible for public housing assistance.'

Mr Chan said these residents ought to be offered a choice of more affordable public housing in nearby districts, if they are to be rehoused, in soon-to-be-completed estates such as Un Chau Estate and Shek Kip Mei Estate.

Wai Woon-nan, chairman of the district council's housing committee, said it had received no details about the redevelopment plan. 'We hope the government demolishes the estate in two phases. The blocks which require temporary structural support should be pulled down first,' he said.