The Urban Renewal Authority and the Housing Society should be merged to speed up slum-clearance projects, officials were told yesterday. The authority on Tuesday submitted its first five-year development plan to the Government, nine months after it was set up to carry out urban renewal. It has faced heavy criticism for not acting more quickly and failing to have a clear development plan. The authority has a brief to redevelop 200 slum areas in 20 years. But it has only come up with one project to redevelop three sites in Wan Chai, Tai Kok Tsui and Shamshuipo at a cost of $2.6 billion. Democrat James To Kun-sun told Legco's planning, lands and works panel yesterday that he had always had a low opinion of the Housing Society, a statutory body with massive reserves which was heavily criticised last year for wanting to build flats on the mainland because of its diminishing role in the SAR. 'I hope the Government will quickly merge the two to improve progress and cost effectiveness,' Mr To said. Other legislators also urged the authority to prioritise the 25 projects the Lands Development Corporation - the authority's predecessor - had scheduled. In his first meeting with legislators, authority chairman Lau Wah-sum said he would strengthen co-operation with the society. But he refused to promise to make the 25 projects a priority. A spokesman for the society said it would step up assistance on urban renewal projects, but ruled out merging with the authority. Deputy Secretary for Planning and Lands Cheung Siu-hing said the authority submitted its five-year plan to Financial Secretary Antony Leung Kam-chung this week. She said the Government would finish studying it in a month. But she said the plan would not be made public in order to avoid people moving into the districts earmarked for re-development with a view to seeking compensation.