Groups warn URA of more unrest over unfair compensation

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 14 December, 2010, 12:00am

Pressure groups warned yesterday that the government and the Urban Renewal Authority faced the possibility of more confrontations because the framework for compensating residents and shop owners was failing to provide fair solutions.

The activists, veterans of battles against redevelopment projects over the past decade, also expressed disappointment that an independent steering committee set up to review the strategy that governed the Urban Renewal Authority's work was dissolved five months early.

Activists made the remarks after they handed in what they called the people's urban renewal strategy to the Development Bureau.

Public consultation on a review of urban renewal strategy ended yesterday. A two-and-half-year exercise to address the public's frequent discontent with authority redevelopment projects ended at the same time.

Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said the new urban renewal strategy would be unveiled early next year.

Lam launched the exercise in July 2008, when she also announced the formation of an independent steering committee to oversee the review and propose changes to urban renewal policy.

'It is very disappointing,' said Sin Wai-fong, an activist helping dislocated residents and businesses in previous urban renewal projects. 'The Development Bureau informed us the steering committee was dissolved in July after we demanded a meeting with the steering committee to express our views.'

Director of the Society for Community Organisation Ho Hei-wah, who is also a member of the steering committee, said: 'The government told us it was in charge of making the final decision. So it took over the final months of the public consultation. We had made our recommendations, but it would have been better if we had been able to continue hearing their views until the end.'

A Development Bureau spokesman said yesterday the steering committee had been dissolved because it had only been appointed for two years. By the end of its term in July it had completed its given tasks.

As a counter-proposal, the pressure groups suggested making 'public use' the only justification for forcing out affected people under the Land Resumption Ordinance.

The provision is meant to stop the authority from driving out residents and businesses and releasing land to profit-making property developers.

Under the government consultation document released in October, the government is to appoint a local committee of professionals and district representatives to formulate plans for redevelopment.

'We expect there will be more confrontation,' Sin said.