The congested shopping streets of Mong Kok are edging closer to a greener and more pedestrian-friendly environment after six improvement proposals were singled out for detailed designs to be developed.
The aim is to maintain Mong Kok's identity as a shopping area while introducing more plants, better landscaping and more open space.
Pedestrian links across Nathan Road will be enhanced and landmarks added to improve orientation.
The Planning Department unveiled the short-term projects yesterday in the Area Improvement Plan for the Shopping Areas of Mong Kok, after it commissioned a feasibility study in February 2006 and two rounds of public consultation between May and July 2007 and April and May last year.
The plan, spreading over about 58 hectares, covered key shopping areas and tourist attractions. It is bounded by the Mong Kok East MTR Station and its railway track to the east, Dundas Street and Waterloo Road to the south, Shanghai Street to the west and Prince Edward Road West and Flower Market Road to the north.
The six projects, mainly involving greening and pavement improvements, were identified for early go-aheads.
Under the proposals, a petrol station on Nullah Road would be removed to make way for a tree-lined public area, coined the 'Green Corridor', running through Nullah Road and Flower Market Road. A pedestrian crossing at Nathan Road near Nullah Road would be widened from seven metres to 10 metres to meet the heavy use.
A park on Kai Chi Kok Road would be enhanced to become an extended part of the Green Corridor. Sculptures and shaded seats would be introduced.
A community centre with multi-functional rooms and rooftop greening was proposed on Soy Street, while pavements at Tung Choi Street would be widened. Some meter parking lots would be removed.
Prince Edward Road West would get an eight-metre pedestrian crossing. The road's pedestrian crossings at the junctions with Fa Yuen Street and Sai Yee Street would be widened by at least a metre to meet heavy use.
The department said traffic impact assessments had been conducted to ensure no adverse effects would arise from carrying out the projects.
Yau Tsim Mong district councillors welcomed the improvement plan and urged the department to speed up the execution.
One of the councillors, Wong Shu-ming, said the area's residents would benefit from the extensive work. 'Air quality in Mong Kok is not very satisfactory at the moment. I hope the green project can improve the condition,' she said.
Fellow councillor Hui Tak-leung, who also welcomed the green elements of the plan, said the department should look into problems that would arise from having more plants.
'Mong Kok has quite a serious problem with mosquitoes,' he said. 'When planting more trees in the area, the government should ensure that the problem is under control.'