The Urban Renewal Authority calls a redevelopment plan for parts of the Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok districts “urban restructuring”. To people who live and make a living there, that is code for a life-changing impact on the underlying socio-economics of a large area. It needs to be fleshed out with detail, and shaped by community consultation. In the absence of both, a mixed reception from urban planners and local interests is not surprising. The plan would relax planning restrictions to allow more living space and open redevelopment areas while providing room for subsidised housing. Urban planners hailed it as “thinking out of the box”. A district councillor said it was too limited in scope to cover the thousands of old buildings in the neighbourhoods. Most of them at least 50 years old, they are home to a dense cross-section of the population including ethnic minorities, particularly South Asians. To many residents it is a Hong Kong home they can afford. Under the plan, five themed, high-rise development cores near the MTR in Mong Kok, Tai Kok Tsui and Yau Ma Tei would trigger regeneration of the surrounding area. It is not clear how such a transformatory vision is to be reconciled with the existing milieu, spanning the entire social spectrum, especially the poor. Notwithstanding an urgent need to address the city’s housing problem, the issue is fraught with sensitivity if it is not inclusive. Cheung Sha Wan tenements set for wrecking ball to provide 2,000 flats Socially and historically Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok are colourful and diverse. With the development of West Kowloon and the high-speed railway some of the area in question is attracting corporates, shopping malls and new buildings, driving a shift in the city’s economic centre. The government’s interest in redevelopment is understandable. There is no question it is ripe for sensitive renewal. This has to respect history and a diverse social, economic and cultural background, ranging from the city’s biggest fruit market to theatres and cinemas and historic buildings. The process needs to be transparent at every stage and take into account the opinions of different stakeholders, who must be involved and contribute. Following the top-down approach adopted so far is bound to meet resistance. The aim should be to set a benchmark for urban restructuring. In that regard, proposing the separation of the wholesale and retail operations of the fruit market, with retail to be linked to a tourist project, without consulting vendors is an example of how not to go about it. It is therefore good to hear from Secretary for Development Michael Wong Wai-lun that the URA study is “very much a vision” subject to “further consultation” and that “we will definitely consult the local community and take into account their views”.