Urban Renewal Authority rules out renovation for unsafe building

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 4:28am

Residents living in a dangerous building in To Kwa Wan will have to solve redevelopment problems on their own after the Urban Renewal Authority refused to start an overhaul yesterday.

After a board meeting, the authority said in a statement that it preferred to help the residents through its demand-led redevelopment scheme - which requires the consent of two-thirds of owners and hence considerable organisation - rather than initiate redevelopment of the block on 51 Kai Ming Street.

A source close to the authority said board members were worried that a proactive move by the authority would set a bad precedent for flat owners in other buildings in poor condition.

"Maintenance is the responsibility of owners," they said.

"It's undesirable for them, especially investors who are not living there, to do nothing to maintain their properties and instead wait for the authority's compensation."

The block's balconies and subdivided flats were found to be structurally unsafe by Buildings Department last month. A total of 16 households were forced to vacate for several weeks so the department could strengthen the building, block the balconies and examine the building's structure.

"It's disappointing as we have been hoping that the authority would step in right away," said To Chuen-fai , a resident who is now living in temporary housing in Kwai Ching. "The government gave us only three months of temporary accommodation. Where shall we go after that?"

To said the residents had applied for the demand-led redevelopment, which covers 21-51 Kai Ming Street, but there were difficulties in obtaining a major consensus from some blocks.

Only five households accepted the Kwai Ching accommodation, the Housing Department said, adding that it "would assess individual merits if extension is requested".