TUNG TAU Estate residents, angered by a hostel for the mentally handicapped in their neighbourhood, are now protesting against a welfare centre for parents of children with Down's syndrome. The Wong Tai Sin residents say the centre, which will provide a toy library and support services for the Down's Syndrome Association, should be moved even though they were told months ago of plans for the site. ''They haven't actually said out loud that they don't want parents to take their Down's syndrome children to the centre, but they are making life difficult,'' the assistant director of the Social Welfare Department, Mr Anthony Chan Wai-kwan, said. Fifteen months after the centre was first discussed at a district board meeting and three months after the final floor plans were endorsed and the contractors were ready to begin work, the residents said they wanted changes. Under present plans, their estate's Mutual Aid Committee office will be sited between the Down's Syndrome Centre and the hostel for the mentally handicapped on the ground floor of Kwai Tung building. Residents now say they want the Mutual Aid Committee and the Down's Syndrome Centre to swap places. The committee would then have more space and the centre would be less conspicuous. Association chairman Mr John Tse Wing-ling said: ''They sprung the proposal on us last Friday, even though we had a meeting with 60 or 70 residents in February to explain the kind of services our centre would provide and to show them our final floor plan. ''We said 'no', not just because doing a swap would have swallowed up our most spacious area, but because their timing was bad. Getting everything done from scratch again would cost us $300,000. We haven't got that kind of money, and I will not approve using donations for something like this,'' he said. Mr Tse said he was astonished when the Housing Department suggested his association might consider entertaining the residents' request. ''Our position is, this matter goes back to that first district board meeting in February of 1992. There was no mention of the two premises doing a switch, even as late as the meeting in February this year. A request has to be reasonable before we can entertain it. Besides, we just don't have the money.'' Residents' representative Mr Wong Wing-kei said they had never objected to the centre being at the estate. ''The cause is a good one. We just want them to move. We are not asking for a bigger site. All we are asking for is for them to do a swap. The Housing Department says they can't do anything because the place has already been rented to the centre. ''The problem really is the people behind the centre said if they were to move to the other site, they would need to build a retaining wall and they are not prepared to spend any money,'' he said. Mr Wong stressed Tung Tau residents were not against disabled people. ''We just want them to move.'' The resource centre is designed to offer parents of Down's syndrome children a place to meet, run a hotline and a toy library and conduct support services. This year the Housing Department persuaded the Hongkong Association for the Mentally Handicapped to move the entrance of its hostel, so that it would not face the lift, and made several other concessions to make things easier for hostel residents. Despite repeated attempts to pacify them, estate residents have threatened to burn down the hostel when it is completed. Work on the hostel had been due to begin last December but residents prevented contractors from working at the site for three months. The hostel was due to open in March. The earliest possible opening has now been rescheduled tentatively for August.