PUBLISHED : Monday, 11 May, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 11 May, 2009, 12:00am

How can the urban renewal process be improved?

I refer to the article 'Urban renewal to take more creative approach' (May 4). I believe many old districts in Hong Kong do need to be redeveloped.

The idea of 'shop for shop' and 'flat for flat' in these areas is good as it can fulfil the demands of many residents and shopkeepers. However, the government implements these projects too slowly.

This affects shopkeepers a lot as they are trying to maintain their livelihood while the work is under way. The government should speed up the process.

Urban renewal projects can benefit the whole of society. They can ensure that the character of old streets is preserved. This will help future generations to learn more about the city's past. Such streets will also be a major tourist attraction, as many visitors are interested in the history of Hong Kong. This will help the city's economy and be good for shopkeepers and other businesses in the area.

I think the authorities have to speed up these projects and ensure that residents and shopkeepers get adequate compensation.

Tam Ka-pui, Mong Kok

The issue of urban renewal is very controversial, especially in the important area of compensation.

Indeed, it is understandable that all interested parties in a renewal project, including local businesses, will be affected. If they are adversely affected, then reasonable sums in compensation should be agreed upon to minimise their losses.

Shopkeepers should be given a lump sum if they have to find temporary premises elsewhere. This may help reduce any discontent they might feel.

The authorities should also advocate a 'shop for shop' and 'flat for flat' policy.

For example, in 'Sneaker Street' (Fa Yuen Street), the Urban Renewal Authority could first renew nearby buildings and put shopkeepers who are displaced by the main project in premises there. This would ensure that the area preserves its unique character.

By keeping its character it could be developed into a tourist attraction, which would be good for businesses.

Such a project would be good for residents in the area affected as their living environment would improve. That is why most residents living in these old areas support improvement projects.

If a renewal project is to take place, the interests and views of the people affected must be taken into account.

Janet Lok, Mong Kok

There are lots of old buildings in Hong Kong. Some of them are in a state of disrepair and present safety problems for the residents.

To ensure affected residents can enjoy a safe living environment, an urban renewal project will have to be carried out as soon as possible.

However, the urban-renewal process needs to be improved, and there are several ways of doing this.

First of all, the government should explain clearly the purpose of its intended scheme to affected residents, telling them that they are living in a dangerous building that might put them at risk. If the residents are fully aware of the risks, they are more likely to co-operate with the government.

Also, the government should give the residents enough time to move out or provide them with temporary accommodation before the project starts. Such arrangements are likely to mean there is less conflict between residents and officials.

Finally, the government should provide residents who own [part or all of the affected] property with reasonable compensation.

Jacol Lam, Sha Tin

How should the pet trade be regulated?

Because of the lack of strict regulation of pet shops, the immoral pet trade is creating problems in Hong Kong ('Demand to tighten up regulations for pet shops', May 4).

This state of affairs should not be tolerated. The government should tighten the rules to protect the rights of animals. I strongly suggest that the government require pet shops to keep records of their pets, including where they are from, and breeding and medical records. Transaction records should also be kept.

The government should adopt a system similar to Singapore. There, the government has a rating system for pet shops, where they are graded according to environment, hygiene and adherence to regulations. Shops that fail to adhere to the rules should have their licence suspended. The government should also organise mandatory training for staff, since most of them are inexperienced. It could give staff a better understanding of their duties and licence requirements.

Many countries have passed laws that have led to successful regulation of the pet trade. We should be willing to borrow from these regulations. We need to protect Hong Kong's pets.

Isaac Shum, Lamma