Renewal is for residents

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 April, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 April, 1994, 12:00am

URBAN renewal programmes are designed not only - as the property sector appears to imagine - to provide new land for profitable development. They are also meant to improve amenities and standards of living in some of the oldest and poorest areas of the city.

Yet if the residents are to be moved out wholesale and deprived of their livelihoods, then given compensation that will not buy them a flat in the district once it is rebuilt - or offered housing in the New Territories far from their current jobs or businesses - they have reason to complain.

If an area is improved against the interests of its residents, rather than for them, urban renewal loses much of its sense.

The Government, however, is considering supporting the private sector by giving it the same rights to compulsorily resumed premises as the non-profit Land Development Corporation (LDC).

The LDC is neither a perfect body nor an invariably charitable institution. It is not above relocating residents to the New Territories or offering them miserable compensation.

But it does not have to make a profit; and it does have a greater sense of social responsibility than the private sector. There is room for the LDC's rights under the Crown Lands Resumption Ordinance to be looked at critically. The rights of private developers should be tightly controlled.