Residents reject 'Wedding City', partial preservation of market

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 24 December, 2007, 12:00am

A representative group of residents rejected the government's idea of partly preserving the Wan Chai Market and changing 'Wedding Card Street' into a themed 'Wedding City'.

Wan Chai District Council commissioned a group in 2005 to collect opinions from stall owners and residents, with 2,000 opinions collected from the open forums, focus group meeting and interviews.

District council chairwoman Ada Wong Ying-kay criticised the government's recently unveiled blueprint for Wan Chai development as an incomplete plan that had separate projects for Lee Tung Street (Wedding Card Street), the Wan Chai Market and the 80-year-old Blue House.

But she appreciated the plan for the Blue House, one of the last surviving balconied tenements, where residents will be allowed to move back in after renovations.

Ms Wong had reservations about plans for the Wan Chai Market to be developed into a 46-storey residential building and Lee Tung Street becoming a commercial Wedding City.

One of the group's members, Roy Tam Hoi-pong, also said the high-rise building proposed for the Bauhaus-style market was unsuitable.

'Now the proposal is just a partial preservation of the Wan Chai Market,' said Mr Tam, president of environmental group Green Sense. 'But Wan Chai Market is a special building that should be wholly preserved.'

The group suggested the government trade the piece of land opposite the market for the construction of the 46-storey building.

The market, which is now owned by developer Chinese Estates Holdings, will be turned into a shopping centre and a residential building.

May Yip Mee-yung, of H15 Concern Group, which comprises former Lee Tung Street residents and business operators, said she could not move to the proposed Wedding City.

She said most of the street's operators could not afford the rents for the new development. The group hoped that the new developer for Lee Tung Street would offer discounted rent to residents and operators so the 'community' in the street would not be separated.

A group member, associate professor of Baptist University geography department Tang Wing-shing, said the biggest flaw of the government's plan was its disregard of the Wan Chai community.

He said residents were just numbers to government planners, but they had forgotten that residents were the most important factor for the community, which was what heritage conservation should preserve.

Meanwhile, Ms Yip has started a hunger strike at Lee Tung Street to protest against the Urban Renewal Authority's plan to demolish the buildings in Wedding Card Street.

Ms Yip started her hunger strike at 4pm yesterday and planned to end her action only if the authority changed its plan to transform the street into a Wedding City. She also demanded a meeting with the authority's chairman, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, as soon as possible.