Street traders will not benefit from tunnels and footbridges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 October, 2010, 12:00am

I have spent the past two weekends scouring Tai Yuen Street market, Wan Chai, looking for the extremely erudite toy shop operator Mac Lee ('Tunnels, walkways will help preserve Wan Chai's bazaars', October 6), however, Mac Lee is nowhere to be found.

No canny street operator would support a series of tunnels and footbridges designed to take people off the streets and funnel them directly into the properties of Hopewell Holdings.

The pedestrian square he refers to in the H15 development will be surrounded by typical upmarket mall outlets that will most certainly not wish to cohabit with traditional street stalls.

The H15 development has already deprived the district of its main through road, Lee Tung Street, and put additional pressure on nearby streets.

When the development is finished, it will attract car-owning residents who will further clog up local streets to the detriment of small businesses.

Hopewell Holdings has already built one footbridge over Queen's Road East and is manipulating the administration into building another one by Ruttonjee Hospital.

It now wants an additional footbridge to link its Wu Chung House and Garden East properties.

If this is allowed, it will turn this section of the narrow Queen's Road East into a dark and airless tunnel.

The proposed tunnels connecting the Hopewell properties are designed to run under public streets. How has the sky above and the earth below this corner of Wan Chai suddenly become the property of one developer?

With these walkways as a precedent, what is there to stop other developers from covering over our streets, obstructing views and ventilation and excavating public land and making it their own?

Not only are the bridges and tunnels designed to reduce pedestrian flow to nearby streets, their construction would involve years of disruption, obstruction and loss of business to other stakeholders. There is no mention of compensation for their loss of business.

How could Wan Chai District Council back this plan without consulting with local residents and small businesses?

We do not want 'to be diverted from the roadside to smooth traffic flow'.

On the contrary, we want measures put into place to reduce road traffic and widen pavements.

At the same time, the MTR Corporation should bear in mind that it is operating a public transport system and it is therefore obliged to provide access to its stations that best serves the local community instead of allowing property developers to dictate, and finance, exits that give them a commercial advantage over other stakeholders.

Finally, could the Lands Department advise what criteria it is using to determine land premium on the ground beneath our pavements and streets and use of public space above?

Candy Tam, Wan Chai