Phasing out mixed uses now policy
It has become official policy to phase out the mixing of shops and homes when districts are rezoned, Kenneth To Lap-kee, an urban planner and consultant, said.
Government planners worried about out-of-control redevelopment decided to rezone all of Tsim Sha Tsui and half of Mong Kok in 1993 for commercial use only. The practice of single-purpose zoning was later extended to Hong Kong Island.
To said the relocation of Kai Tak airport and subsequent relaxation of limits to building heights in Kowloon played a part in encouraging officials to further phase out mixed use.
'The rezoning of Tsim Sha Tsui for purely commercial [use] was nonsense. Why stop people from living there when there are certainly people wanting to live there for the sake of convenience?' he said.
As malls and offices gradually replace old tenements, the population of Tsim Sha Tsui is slowly falling. The number of residents decreased between 1996 and 2006 to 35,212 from 36,388, census figures show.
Although shops may exist in a residential zone, they are confined to the first three floors of a building.
But To said rezoning might affect small and medium-sized enterprises, which often find a niche in a mixed-use building and may not be able to afford the rent in a high-end tower.
In Singapore, the Urban Redevelopment Authority introduced a 'white zone' that allows a combination of commercial, residential, hotel, sports, recreational and even clean industrial uses.