A day after announcing redevelopment plans for the Wah Fu Estate that have for years been under consideration, Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying has called on its residents to quickly agree on relocation places so that the project can make headway.
But many elderly residents in the 47-year-old Aberdeen estate were likely to refuse to move, a district councillor has warned.
Wah Fu, built in the 1960s as one of the city's earliest public rental housing estates with comprehensive facilities, used to be dubbed a "luxurious estate for commoners". Situated near the affluent Pok Fu Lam neighbourhood, flats on the higher floors have sea views.
But the buildings have deteriorated over the years. In 2008, the government launched a record HK$180 million repairs and maintenance project after it decided against demolishing the 9,000-home estate that houses more than 20,000 people.
Yesterday, Leung announced plans to redevelop Wah Fu. He also lifted the development moratorium over five nearby sites south of Pok Fu Lam to allow the building of 11,900 public rental housing units and Home Ownership Scheme flats.
Speaking during a phone-in radio programme, the chief executive stopped short of saying if Wah Fu residents would be offered the chance to move into the new homes in the district.
"There are many factors to consider, including transport arrangements, he said.
A Wah Fu resident who called in to the programme urged Leung to give a clear schedule of the redevelopment plan.
"We have put up with the endless noise from repair works for more than 10 years now," he said. "Residents are on the edge of a nervous breakdown … Can you please give us a timetable?"
Sidestepping the question, the chief executive urged residents to co-operate to speed up the redevelopment process.
"While the government will compress the work as much as we can, I also hope [Wah Fu residents] will help us by reaching a consensus on where to move as soon as possible," Leung said.
One of the two district councillors representing the estate, independent Au Lap-sing, said about 40 per cent of Wah Fu residents were elderly people. Most, if not all, of them were reluctant to move out of their homes because of their old age.
Pok Fu Lam district councillor Paul Zimmerman said he found the five sites identified for development by the government suitable for building additional public rental housing units.
The key concern of residents in the area was that there had to be sufficient transport facilities to meet the demand brought about by the increased population after the development, he said.
The administration is also considering building a west section of the MTR's future South Island Line, which would connect Wah Fu Estate with Admiralty via Wong Chuk Hang.
Zimmerman said it was risky for the government to lift the development moratorium before confirming plans for the new railway and securing funding approval from lawmakers.