One of URA's priorities is helping disadvantaged residents

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 April, 2009, 12:00am

It is simply inaccurate and grossly unfair of T. Farnworth ('HK-style urban renewal robs poor residents', April 7) to describe the Urban Renewal Authority's compensation policy as akin to robbing the disadvantaged. Let's look at a few facts.

Helping residents in old districts to improve their living conditions has always been a priority of the URA and its predecessor, the Land Development Corporation. Our main focus has been, and will continue to be, disadvantaged residents in old and dilapidated buildings. And most affected residents and the public welcome the renewal efforts.

An example among the numerous cases we have come across is a family in Kwun Tong. The family used to live in a 400 sq ft flat, in a 46-year-old building that leaked badly during the rainy season. The family wanted to move out as soon as possible. The URA's acquisition offer of HK$5,937 per sq ft for the apartment, as part of the overall offer for Kwun Tong apartments that come under the URA's redevelopment project, was 2.7 times the flat's market value. We understand that with the money it received the family has bought a newer 680 sq ft flat in Lam Tin. This is just one out of the tens of thousands of examples of how affected owners can improve their living environment with the URA's compensation offer. The URA also compensates tenants and helps tenants who qualify to move to public housing flats.

With our latest redevelopment project in Kwun Tong, 97 per cent of domestic owner-occupiers affected by the redevelopment have sold their property interests to the URA. They all did so within the 90-day offer period. Many of them have since acquired newer and better accommodation.

In addition to upgrading the living environment of residents, the comprehensive planning and land-use restructuring that typically accompany URA renewal projects often result in the provision of much-needed open space and welfare facilities that benefit the community at large. Big open spaces (such as the one beside Cosco Tower in Central) offer much-needed retreats in the built-up urban area and are frequented by hundreds daily.

Angela Tang, general manager, external relations, Urban Renewal Authority