The decision to save all 12 tenement buildings in Wing Lee Street from demolition won applause from conservationists yesterday but upset tenants who want public flats and owners seeking more compensation. Under the original plan submitted for Town Planning Board approval on Friday, only three of the 12 tenements would be preserved. Public opposition to the plan intensified after a film shot on the street won an award at the Berlin Film Festival last month. The board received more than 500 objections from members of the public. If board members do not support the original plan on Friday, the board will be asked to consider the alternative proposal announced yesterday. The alternative proposal excludes Wing Lee Street from the redevelopment boundary that originally covered three sites, including Staunton Street and Shing Wong Street. The street will be zoned as a conservation area to prevent redevelopment. The authority, having acquired half of the 24 property interests in Wing Lee Street, will stop approaching owners for acquisition if the alternative plan is adopted. Owners will be asked to preserve and refurbish all 12 tenements, of which three are now owned by the authority. Under an existing voluntary restoration scheme for tenements, owners who cannot afford the renovation costs will be subsidised to refurbish the building's exterior, and they can borrow up to HK$300,000 to maintain common areas. The renovation cost is estimated at HK$500 to HK$3,000 per sq ft, depending on the condition of the building. The chairman of the Urban Renewal Authority, Barry Cheung Chun-yuen, said: 'The original plan preserved the site's ambience. The new plan extends the preservation from head to toe.' Owners can stay, including those who have already accepted the authority's compensation. The URA's managing director, Quinn Law Yee-kwan, said: 'Owners can move back to Wing Lee Street if they give us back the compensation.' But those who want to sell their flats under the new plan will receive less compensation because the authority will only give them an amount equivalent to the existing value of their flats, which were built in the 1950s. They can no longer obtain an amount equivalent to a seven-year-old flat as the site is no longer within the boundaries of the redevelopment project, Law said. For tenants who have not accepted the authority's offers, which allows them to move to a public estate, the URA is only empowered to help tenants affected by the acquisition - meaning they will not now be compensated. Shum Sui-heung, a tenant who has lived in the street for 10 years, said she was devastated by the proposal to preserve the street because it dashed her hopes of being able to relocate to public housing. 'I've been waiting for the government to buy out my flat and relocate us to public housing for 10 years,' said Shum, who pays rent of HK$4,500 a month. But her 92-year-old mother-in-law, who has lived in the street for 40 years, said she was connected to the neighbourhood. 'I don't want to move,' she said. Chow Chung-tak, who inherited two buildings from his father, an architect who designed them about 50 years ago, was thrilled to learn of the proposal. He has been campaigning to preserve all 12 tenements in the street and spent HK$700,000 to renovate his buildings last year. Although some tenants expressed concerns about possible rent rises under the new proposal, Chow said he had no intention of raising rents for the time being. Connie Yam Oi-ting, who runs a family printing shop in the street, said her landlord had been negotiating with the government for a good price to sell the building and would be disappointed at the news. Alex Law Kai-yui, director of Echoes of the Rainbow, visited the street after learning about the proposal to keep the street as it is. 'People's hopes for the street to be preserved made things happen,' he said. But lawmaker James To Kun-sun, a non-executive director of the URA, warned that people were celebrating too early. 'The buildings are not completely safe as the board might approve the original plan,' he said. Albert Lai Kwong-tak, chairman of Professional Commons, which made an appeal to the authority last week, welcomed the new plan. He suggested the authority set up a co-operative society with other property owners in the street to jointly decide what to do with the tenements - for example, renting them to the art and creative sector. But the authority's executive director, Iris Tam Siu-ying, said the 12 refurbished tenements could not offer public access and would be kept for residential and commercial uses as the preservation did not allow significant alternations to install lifts and fire escapes. Katty Law Ngar-ning, convenor of the Central and Western Concern Group, said the alternative was a step forward. She hoped the authority would further consider extending preservation to the other site in Staunton Street, where a number of owners have renovated their flats in recent years.