NewsHong Kong

URA tackles more shabby blocks in owner-initiated projects

Sites in Sham Shui Po and Tai Kok Tsui go to next stage of demand-led plan that requires 80 per cent of owners to back redevelopment

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 June, 2013, 5:25am

More run-down buildings in Sham Shui Po and Tai Kok Tsui have been selected for redevelopment if 80 per cent of the owners agree to it, the Urban Renewal Authority says.

The two latest sites are home to almost 200 flats that include subdivided accommodation and illegal rooftop houses. The blocks were built in the 1960s.

Compensation for tenants would be considered on a case-by-case basis if the redevelopment went ahead, which depended on getting enough owners to agree to the projects, the authority said yesterday.

Some residents were overjoyed to be given a chance to leave their "dreadful place", while others were worried about resettlement.

Cheung Suet-ying, 65, who lives with her husband and four children, said the security of her Sham Shui Po building was a constant worry. The place features an inn and a karaoke lounge but no security guards or gates.

"The environment here used to be quite good, then more and more flats were subdivided and the place became rather dreadful," she said.

Under a demand-led scheme launched last year, four Sham Shui Po sites and one Tai Kok Tsui site were earlier singled out for redevelopment.

The scheme requires residents to initially gain the support of two-thirds of flat owners in a building before they can apply to the URA for participation.

Any objection should be filed within two months. In the meantime, the authority will propose using either cash or alternative housing to acquire the properties. A project will proceed only if 80 per cent of owners indicate their acceptance within 75 days of the offers.

Authority officials began yesterday to record the number of affected residents. On No8-10 Fuk Chak Street and No7-9 Li Tak Street in Tai Kok Tsui, the two blocks, located back-to-back, contain about 100 flats, while No25-31 Wong Chuk Street in Sham Shui Po holds about 96 flats.

The URA is budgeting HK$1.3 billion to rework both projects, yielding 165 flats of about 540 square feet each by 2020.

Chiu Chung-kwan, chairman of the mutual aid committee of the Li Tak Street building, said he was not optimistic. "It had been so difficult to get the support of 67 per cent of the owners; we made it only very marginally," he said.

The building is very dilapidated, especially the interior walls, water pipes and stairs. "Many of the owners have leased out their places as subdivided flats. They don't live here any more and they don't care."

Zhang Haili, 35, a housewife who lives in one of the partitioned cubicles with her husband and two children, said: "I only want to leave this place as soon as possible. It's so dirty here."

Zhang said some of their neighbours had mental problems and sometimes left food on the staircase that would rot and smell. Rubbish blocked one of the two staircases, she said. She hoped her family could move to public housing in the same district, where her mother-in-law, who has bowel cancer, also lived.

Over at Sham Shui Po, several housewives were excited about the potential redevelopment. "I'm so happy today," one said. "It's like a dream come true."




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