PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2008, 12:00am

What do you think of the Mong Kok development plan?

In his letter regarding the redevelopment of MacPherson stadium in Mong Kok, H.C. Bee (Talkback, June 24) gave voice to the concerns of many readers.

It is totally inappropriate that a public sports facility be redeveloped in this manner as involvement in recreational facilities appears to be outside the remit of the Urban Renewal Authority, which is 'to improve the living conditions of residents in dilapidated urban areas'.

Regulations that sports grounds, like schools, have a cap on permitted height, and Planning Guideline No6.5.16 on district open space - that 'additional areas should be allocated which take advantage of natural landscape, waterfront, harbour views and/or views to special features' - have been conveniently ignored.

The term 'special features' does certainly not include residential towers.

If our government was strapped for cash, a public-private partnership model might be acceptable.

But with a budget surplus of around HK$120 billion, it is totally unnecessary.

In fact, as part of its 'giving back wealth to the people', taxpayers expect that some of the surplus be invested in improving our sports facilities and, therefore, quality of life.

Given the choice, many of us would have preferred the HK$1,200 electricity rebate, which will only encourage energy consumption and line the already sagging pockets of CLP and Hongkong Electric, to be spent on enhancing such facilities.

If the city's financial situation is so dire, how come the government has recently appointed 17 highly paid 'political assistants' when we were promised smaller government?

The private developer will of course cut corners and has no incentive to provide a top-quality venue.

The taxpayer will have to fund necessary upgrades and refurbishments in a few years' time. The extra building density will have a negative impact on the surrounding streets and those using the sports fields.

Could the URA please advise why it is involved in this project and where can we find the required social impact assessment?

Candy Tam, Wan Chai

On other matters ...

Many residents of the city would have been shocked to learn that large developers such as Swire Properties were opposed to proposed height restrictions for building developments in Mid-Levels.

This shows that these companies are not taking into consideration the health of residents.

Our living environment and levels of air pollution are important factors when it comes to looking at public health.

Building another high-rise in Mid-Levels will have an adverse effect on the surrounding environment and worsen living conditions. There will be more traffic congestion and fewer recreational facilities.

Such buildings also make air quality worse. Studies have shown that the city's air quality is deteriorating. Therefore, those developers who oppose height restrictions in Mid-Levels are showing no regard for the health of residents in the area.

These high-rises can restrict air flow and cause 'heat-island' effect in urban areas of the city.

For example Mong Kok is one of the hottest parts of the city because of the 'wall effect' that buildings create on the waterfront of West Kowloon.

Surely we should learn from this when looking at future developments on Hong Kong Island and appreciate that it is residents who suffer.

These proposed buildings in Mid-Levels are a violation of social justice.

The government must accept that whatever the big developers gain, they do so at the expense of residents.

T. Tang, Mid-Levels

The excellent Central to Mid-Levels escalator connection is unique to the city and transports thousands of people in comfort every day.

While it might be a pity that the narrow streets through which it passes curtailed the possibility of having a double strand, going both ways, the authorities have found a suitable way to manage the busy flow.

In the mornings, until 10am, many people descend on it to their Central offices, or to the Central MTR, from the more residential Mid-Levels areas. Later in the day, the direction is switched to transport people up the hill on their way home after work. This seems to work pretty well.

Those responsible must be congratulated for their quick thinking on the day of our latest typhoon on Wednesday.

As we had signal No8 that morning, people stayed at home. But when that was later changed to a No3 signal, many people had to trek in to their offices at lunchtime.

Normally the escalator would be heading uphill at that time. However, gumption was shown by having the direction going downhill, when numerous people were going late to work that day, at lunchtime.

All credit to the responsible authorities for reacting to the greatest need of the city's public in that thoughtful way.

If only the Leisure and Cultural Services Department could be persuaded to respond equally to the greatest public need in terms of the beach lifeguard service. When our sunny days return, there won't be many swimmers around in the early mornings when its lifeguard service starts.

But there will still be many people in the water at 6pm, when the service ends and the lifeguards go home.

The department needs to respond to the greater need for lifeguard provision, which is in the early evening, rather than the early morning.

The finishing time should be extended for an hour or two, especially on sunny weekends.

Paul Surtees, Mid-Levels

I would like to draw the attention of relevant departments to the driving attitudes of government drivers as the city's administration is always promoting road safety.

On Monday June 23, at around 8.55am, I was driving near Siu Lek Yuen, Sha Tin.

A yellow light truck belonging to the government suddenly changed lanes in front of my car without indicating.

It moved into my lane (with only a car's distance) so close that I had to brake immediately to avoid a collision.

I think that government drivers should see themselves as role models for other drivers when it comes to good driving habits and having the right driving attitudes.

Keith Chor, Sha Tin