Urban planning

Apology after ‘goose egg’ building in Hong Kong goes missing from development plans

Managing director of the Urban Renewal Authority Wai Chi-sing dismissed claims authority was trying to deceive public, bypass public consultation or renege on promise

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 24 September, 2017, 6:36pm
UPDATED : Monday, 25 September, 2017, 3:02pm

A redevelopment body in Hong Kong has apologised after a proposed office and retail complex shaped like a goose egg was mislaid from a revised plan without public consultation.

The managing director of the Urban Renewal Authority, Wai Chi-sing, wrote a blog post days after it emerged that the landmark design in Kwun Tong was not in a plan submitted to the Town Planning Board in June.

The public and district councillors were kept in the dark about what had happened to the design, which had been backed by residents in 2007, and also included a terraced park with waterfalls. It was part of the authority’s biggest redevelopment plan to date.

“As the managing director of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) team, I am willing to apologise for the insufficient communications with the District Council ahead of tabling the revised plan to the Town Planning Board and [we] pledge to improve,” Wai wrote on Sunday.

Change in plans for iconic ‘goose egg’ building in Kwun Tong project ruffles feathers

But he dismissed claims the authority was trying to deceive the public, bypass public consultation or renege on its promise, saying such allegations would undermine the effort by his team.

The multibillion-dollar, five-phase Kwun Tong Town Centre Project affects about 1,653 property interests and about 5,000 people.

Wai said the URA had originally hoped to push the development of the fourth and the fifth project zones ahead – where the structures in question are located – until it found out there were a number of illegally occupied structures alongside an adverse possession case in the fifth zone.

The URA then decided to develop them separately in a bid to avoid delaying the project and had to amend its plan.

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Wai said the revised plan had focused on the planning elements instead of the designs because they hoped to do the latter after gaining the green light from the Town Planning Board. But the inconsistency with the 2007 proposal eventually sparked public outcry.

The managing director admitted his colleagues had failed to explain the possible change of design to the district councillors and members of public while focusing on amending the plans.

“I have already reiterated to my colleagues that such communications should be as detailed as possible in future to allow district councillors to fully grasp the workflow of URA,” he wrote, adding they would try its best to keep the landmark structure.

Wai also said URA would stop using conceptual illustrations of proposals which have not gone though planning and feasibility studies to avoid future misunderstandings.