Residents unsure over plans to redevelop To Kwa Wan tenements
A plan to speed up the redevelopment of the rundown blocks neighbouring the To Kwa Wan tenement that collapsed in January has been given a mixed reception by residents.
Some are complaining about inadequate compensation, but others excluded from the project accuse the government of 'dumping them behind in hell'.
Complaints were voiced last night in the 500-seat hall at New Asia Middle School in To Kwa Wan at a residents' meeting organised by the Urban Renewal Authority, which is to take charge of the project.
The 90-minute meeting, the first of a series, was supposed to allow authority officers to brief owners and tenants on compensation packages and rehousing arrangements.
Senior authority officers, including chairman Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, acquisition and clearance director Joseph Lee King-chi, and planning and design director Michael Ma Chiu-tsee attended the meeting.
Tang Ling, whose block is not included in the project, challenged the authority for a written guarantee that old blocks nearby would not collapse in the next decade. 'Our blocks are only a stone's throw away [from the area designated for redevelopment]. Why are we not included?' said Ms Tang, who has lived in her Chun Tin Street block for almost 30 years.
Cheung said blocks neighbouring the project area were deemed to be in acceptable condition.
But Tang argued: 'The Buildings Department has ordered us to repair numerous [instances of] damage after a recent inspection. If the condition of our flats is so good, why did the department ask us to carry out repairs?'
Kowloon City district councillor Pius Yum Kwok-tung also urged the government to reconsider.
Noodle shop owner Mr Chan said his premises were in good condition and there was no need to pull them down. He questioned whether the authority was using the collapse as an excuse to make money from redevelopment of the area.
'Unless you give me a shop lot of the same size in exchange, I shall fight your plan to the end,' he said.
A five-storey tenement collapsed in Ma Tau Wai Road, To Kwa Wan, in January, claiming four lives. The cause has not yet been established.
Financial Secretary John Tsang Chun-wah announced the redevelopment plan last week, taking many by surprise. The project covers an area of about 3,380 square metres, bounded by Ma Tau Wai Road, Hok Yuen Street, and Chun Tin Street.
The buildings, ranging from four to six storeys, date from between 1955 and 1957. Some 540 households and 35 shops will be affected by the project, involving about 159 property interests.
The plan is to turn the 33 blocks in the area into two 30-storey blocks. About 420 will be 500 sq ft units. There will also be 500 square metres of open space at ground level, 1,000 square metres of community facilities, and shops. Construction is expected to take five years.
Depending on opposition, the authority could make acquisition offers to owners as soon as May.
New for old
Rundown blocks in To Kwa Wan are to be redeveloped
The number of property interests that are affected by the plans: 159