THE chairman of the Land Development Corporation (LDC), Andrew Li Kwok-nang, has made a strong plea for the Government to make a commitment on urban renewal by granting the corporation land at concessionary rates to meet its rehousing needs. Mr Li, who is a member of the Executive Council, also called on the Government to devote additional resources to process LDC requests for resumption of properties so that urban renewal projects can be speeded up. The LDC estimates that in the next five years, it will need 1,200 units to rehouse tenants in run-down buildings covered by 19 urban renewal projects. If the LDC had to buy these units it would cost $3 billion. Mr Li said: 'We're not asking for money. What we're asking for is land at concessionary rates so that we can build these units to rehouse people who will be displaced in the process of urban renewal. 'We understand this is a cost to taxpayers in terms of lost revenue and we appreciate land is in short supply in the urban area. But the community will gain in terms of improved living conditions of the affected residents and the provision of useful and socially desirable Government, institutional and community facilities and open space in the redeveloped areas.' Chief executive of the LDC Abraham Razack said the corporation was not making an unprecedented request, because the Government had already granted land to the Housing Society and the Housing Authority at concessionary rates to provide public rental housing. Mr Li said rehousing was a problem in the decaying areas where the population density was high with several families living in one flat. If a sufficient number of flats could not be provided to rehouse these families, the LDC would have to undertake fewer projects and the progress of urban renewal would be delayed, he said. Under the LDC's compensation packages, affected owners are offered the market value of their properties and an additional allowance to enable them to buy a recently built flat in the vicinity. They can also opt to surrender their old flat in exchange for a new flat in a LDC-redeveloped property. Tenants are either given cash compensation or rehoused in LDC-owned properties for which they pay rent at between 23 per cent and 52 per cent of the market rates, depending on their household income. There have been suggestions the terms of compensation are too generous compared with the eligibility criteria for low-cost housing provided by the Housing Authority and Housing Society. However, Mr Li said the LDC considered it had a social responsibility to take care of people who were displaced because of urban redevelopment.