Flats can still be built without destroying important park

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 5:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 April, 2016, 5:13pm

My family has lived in the western part of Hong Kong Island for more than 60 years and we have found it disheartening to see the area lose its unique character.

It has become overpopulated, as the government sanctioned the rapid construction of luxury apartment blocks, especially in Kennedy Town.

Now it is pressing ahead with plans to destroy the very popular Cadogan Street Temporary Garden, to make way for even more luxury flats. This is the only remaining park with grass in this part of Kennedy Town and is a vital green space for nearby residents of all ages. It is a great pity that 200 beautiful trees will be felled.

Thousands of Kennedy Town residents have signed petitions asking the government to keep the park, but as has become the norm in Hong Kong in recent years, residents’ wishes are ignored.

Nearby residents are particularly worried that planned decontamination works will be carried out close to their homes, and will pose a health hazard, given that the government has failed to state how it will monitor the air quality during the seven-year decontamination process. The decontamination is deemed necessary because the park is close to the sites of a former incinerator and abattoir. The government says the park has been safe to use for the last 19 years, so why does it now need decontaminating? Is it really necessary to waste HK$1.1 billion of taxpayers’ money to carry this out?

Given that the nearby ex-incinerator and abattoir sites need decontamination for future development, it is a necessity to retain Cadogan Street park, as it performs filtering and decontaminating functions naturally. As the government has set the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to 1995 level by 2020, retaining the park helps meet this objective and helps mitigate greenhouse effects.

The government submitted Outline Zoning Plan S/H1/20 to the Town Planning Board for public consultation. Because there were so many objections, the Legislative Council’s Finance Committee rescinded the decontamination funding request on April 1.

We want the Development Bureau and Town Planning Board to also rescind the plan and conduct a proper consultation with local residents.

They should aim to work towards a win-win solution for all parties, in which the park is saved, while new building units can be accommodated. Local residents have proposed an alternative zoning plan.

Why will the government not listen to their views and come up with an improved plan before submitting it to the board?

Peter Lo, Kennedy Town