Skyscrapers planned for Kwun Tong revamp

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 08 August, 2006, 12:00am

Kwun Tong's town centre will soar skywards when the run-down former industrial zone goes through its long-awaited urban renewal.

The area will be filled with tall buildings to ensure it has enough commercial space to attract business, Urban Renewal Authority sources said yesterday.

They were speaking a day before the authority was due to announce three concept plans for Kwun Tong.

The Town Planning Board will discuss the authority's redevelopment plan on Friday.

'It is important to have tall buildings in Kwun Tong as we need to ensure it will have sufficient commercial space to attract people,' a source said. 'The prosperity of Kwun Tong depends on whether it will continue to attract visitors to the district.'

The source said the authority would work on the architecture to ensure the tall buildings did not affect air circulation.

But he remained tight-lipped on how tall the buildings would be.

Kwun Tong redevelopment was announced in early 1998 by the Land Development Corporation. It was passed on to the authority when it was set up three years later, following the dissolution of the corporation.

The 5.3 hectare project includes Yuet Wah Street bus terminal, and the area bordered by Hip Wo Street, Mut Wah Street, Hong Ning Road and Kwun Tong Road.

The redevelopment will affect 23 buildings and 1,635 property rights. It is the city's biggest redevelopment project.

Buying properties will account for more than HK$10 billion, and the entire development will exceed HK$25 billion.

The authority has decided the project will be completed in phases.

It has also promised residents that the redevelopment will bring more open space and a greater range of facilities, while old trees in the town centre would not be sacrificed.

The source said the consensus of Kwun Tong residents was that the redevelopment had to be able to attract people, and there had to be landmark buildings at the centre and open space.

'They have no objection to tall buildings as long as the buildings have good architecture,' he said.

Residential buildings will be built north of the redevelopment zone, near the surrounding hills.

Commercial activities will be at the south, close to the main roads.

Ng Mei-kam, who teaches urban planning at the University of Hong Kong, questioned the authority's wisdom in increasing the density of Kwun Tong.

'The whole purpose of redeveloping Kwun Tong is to improve living conditions. But I wonder if building tall buildings and increasing the density will really improve this,' she said. 'I'm sure by making the new buildings taller, the authority will make more profit. But it will be bad for the Kwun Tong's landscape. As a whole, it is an undesirable design.'