'Bottom-up' approach set to give affected communities a bigger say on projects

PUBLISHED : Friday, 15 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 15 October, 2010, 12:00am

The Urban Renewal Authority will take a bottom-up approach by discussing planned projects with affected communities and take on new roles under its new strategy. Unanswered questions remain, however, in the 18-page consultation document.

The paper gives broad directions of how the authority will regenerate old urban areas under the strategy, which replaces one formulated in 2001 that has been criticised for a lack of public participation in rebuilding old communities.

In affected areas, a local committee termed a District Urban Renewal Forum comprising professionals and district representatives will be set up to formulate plans for redevelopment, rehabilitation and heritage conservation. Forum members will be appointed by the government.

Among its new roles the authority will be able to accept invitations to redevelop blocks where a majority of owners want it. It can also provide a consultation service for owners who want to redevelop their sites themselves, but in such cases it will not acquire flats or offer compensation or rehousing.

Tenants who lose their eligibility for rehousing through being evicted or having their tenancies terminated before the authority successfully acquires the properties from their landlords will be given compensation equivalent to three times their flat's rateable value.

Social services teams who work with affected residents will also be given greater independence, as they will report directly to the members of the government-appointed Urban Renewal Trust Fund rather than the authority. But details of how aspects of the new strategy will be implemented were not given. For example, it is still unclear at what point the authority should offer help to owners who initiate redevelopment of their property, as no definition has been given to what constitutes a 'majority of owners'.

It is also not clear whether tenants affected by these projects should be given compensation.