'In the summer, my flat is like a fireplace'

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 06 October, 2009, 12:00am

Yip Yuk-mui, who has lived in an older estate in Tai Kok Tsui for more than 20 years, lost more than her sea view when new high-rises went up in front.

She also lost the sea breezes that cooled her home in the summer and her electricity bill doubled as she had to keep the air conditioner on to keep the temperature down. Yip is among about 10,000 residents of the area, many of them elderly, whose comfort levels have plunged as the high-rises soared.

'In summer, my flat is like a fireplace,' she said, adding that the temperature in the bedroom of her flat on the Cosmopolitan Estate could be as high as 36 degrees Celsius. And while her flat has heated up, it has become darker as the 50-storey blocks of Harbour Green, one of two luxurious estates in front of her building, have blocked sunlight and wind since they were completed two years ago.

Last Friday the temperature at street level was 31 degrees Celsius, but the temperature inside her 11th-floor flat was three degrees higher. She worried that a future redevelopment in Li Tak Street, next to her building, would make things worse.

Lau Pak-kei, a senior community development officer with the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said he had handled about 20 similar complaints each month, especially in summer.

Other massive estates in the area include developments above the Olympic Station, Metro Harbour View, i-home and Bedford 28.

'People sweat and grieve about the deteriorating living environment caused by walled buildings,' Lau said, adding that open space nearby provided no shade.

He said the heat-island effect could become a social problem if the government failed to change its attitude to planning and offer more facilities for the elderly in older areas.