The ombudsman is investigating the government and the Urban Renewal Authority over claims that it mishandled the Wedding Card Street redevelopment, those affected by the plan have said. Residents and printing merchants hope the investigation will force the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau to suspend the order for the resumption of land in Lee Tung Street, Wan Chai, on November 15. Their wish was expressed when about 40 affected residents and shop owners recently celebrated what could be their last Mid-Autumn Festival in the street famed for its concentration of shops that print wedding cards. 'We hope the government will suspend the land resumption order. Otherwise by the time the ombudsman completes the investigation, the street will be gone,' said Kam Fok Lai-ching, a representative of the H15 Concern Group. <p><h4><a href=" https://multimedia.scmp.com/news/hong-kong/article/evolution-hong-kong/… ; target="_blank" title="The history of Hong Kong">Live the history of Hong Kong, how it grew from colonial opium trading outpost to global finance mecca</a></h4></p> Residents and shop owners formed the group after the government announced its plans to raze historical buildings and replace them with high-rises. They named the group after the redevelopment's reference number. Early last month, the Lands Department gazetted the long-anticipated resumption order for the land, allowing it to take over properties from unwilling owners if they do not agree to sell to the authority within three months. Those refusing to surrender their properties after that date will be evicted. So far, none of the attempts to preserve the street, including Town Planning Board intervention, has succeeded. The group has appealed to the Town Planning Appeal Board and is waiting for an independent panel to hear the case. On August 27, the concern group sought assistance from the Office of the Ombudsman. Residents were warned that their complaints might take more than the usual time to investigate. 'The subject officer told me that it normally takes three months to complete an investigation. But as ours is complex it may take a longer time,' Ms Kam said. The complaints against the Urban Renewal Authority include that it did not live up to its pledges of preserving district character and maintaining the social network in the redevelopment plan. Additional conditions were also added to the compensation scheme, which were not included in the Urban Renewal Ordinance. The group made a complaint against the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau for failing to monitor the authority. This is an edited version of the original article which appeared in the South China Morning Post on September 20, 2005 Factbox: *Lee Tung Street in Wan Chai is better known as Wedding Card Street because it has been home to the city's wedding invitation printing shops for as long as anyone can remember. * In 2003, the Urban Renewal Authority announced it would spend $3.58 billion to redevelop Lee Tung Street and McGregor Street, an area covering almost 96,000sq ft. According to an Authority spokesman, up to the end of June 2005, more than 85 per cent of the 647 affected homeowners on Lee Tung Street had agreed to accept compensation offers of $4,079 per square foot. The purchase of the land is expected to be completed early 2006. *Three historical tenement houses at nearby 186-190 Queen's Road East will be preserved as part of the project. They were all completed in the mid-1930s. These buildings lie on land reclaimed before 1887 and are identified by the Antiquities and Monuments Office as Grade II Historical Buildings. Web links www.ura.org.hk website of the Urban Renewal Authority www.h15.hk/Walking/docs_layout.htm home page of the H15 Concern Group www.hkcmp.org website of the Community Museum Project Viewpoint 'We'll have to leave anyway, whether we feel like it or not. We can do nothing if the building has to be torn down.' Chan Tai-hing, a 76-year-old who lives with his wife in an old building in Wan Chai. 'A study by the University of Hong Kong found only 4 per cent of residents objected to renewal, while more than 70 per cent were in favour of it. But the recent voice of opposition has been so loud that it seems 80 per cent are opposed to the idea.' Eric Choi Yan-sang, the Urban Renewal Authority's head of community development, adding that there had been virtually no resistance when the Lee Tung Street renewal announcement was made six years ago 'When I got more immersed in the life there [Lee Tung Street], I discovered the interweaving relationships that shaped the street - for example, the owners of several printing shops had started their careers together as apprentices under the same mentor. Some sizeable, modern businesses are run by descendants of people who ran tiny shops beneath a stairwell.' Tse Pak-chai, member of the Community Museum Project Discussion: * What is more important - preserving local heritage or improving people's living environment? Enquiry: * Does it make sense to have shops selling the same product in one area? * Are there any buildings or landmarks in your school neighbourhood that should be preserved? * Do you think it is a good idea to plan a heritage tour of your district? How would you do it?