A study of the proposed Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong

Pao Yue-kong Library Electronic Theses Database

A study of the proposed Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong


Author: Yeung, Ma-ling John
Title: A study of the proposed Urban Renewal Authority of Hong Kong
Year: 1999
Subject: Urban renewal -- China -- Hong Kong
Hong Kong Polytechnic University -- Dissertations
Department: Multi-disciplinary Studies
Dept. of Building and Real Estate
Pages: viii, 105, [11] leaves : ill. ; 31 cm
Language: English
InnoPac Record: http://library.polyu.edu.hk/record=b1480067
URI: http://theses.lib.polyu.edu.hk/handle/200/34
Abstract: Similar to other cities in the world, Hong Kong has suffered from the problems of urban decay and difficulty in solving them. Owing to the continuous increase of population, the scarcity of land, the fragmented ownership of buildings and the Government being the main supplier of land, these local factors make the implementation of urban renewal more difficult and complicated. The Government once believed that those problems of urban renewal could be solved by improving the mechanism to utilize the resources of private developers. Under such concept, in 1988, the Land Development Corporation (LDC) was established to speed up the urban renewal of Hong Kong. However, it is estimated that the problems of urban decay are getting much worse particularly over the coming ten years in terms of speed and quantity. It has also found that those areas need urgent attention are mostly covered by medium-rise buildings which make the redevelopment financially non-viable. In the policy published in 1996, the Government announced to adopt a more responsible and long term approach to urban renewal, the LDC would be upgraded to a statutory Urban Renewal Authority (URA) which would be given much greater power including land resumption and statutory plan making. This study attempts to recognise the need for setting up the URA by identifying the existing problems in urban renewal. The existing performance of implementation agencies, particularly LDC, is examined to identify the nature and causes of their problems and to understand their weaknesses and strengths. According to a case study of LDC's project, the link site concept to use a profitable project to cross subsidize a non-profitable one may not be workable. Since urban renewal project is vulnerable to the volatility of the property market, a forecasted profit will be turned to be a loss when it encounters a falling market upon its completion. In view of the overseas experiences are valuable, the experiences of Britain, Singapore and other countries of the Organization for Economic Co-operation & Development are examined, which concentrate on the role and commitment of government, the approach to public involvement of urban renewal and organizational arrangement of agencies. Having taken account of both the local and overseas experiences in urban renewal, this study attempts to identify possible measures to cope with the problems and challenges ahead. It is recognised there is a lack of a top level policy to clearly demonstrate the commitment and the role of the Government on urban renewal. The formulation of a top level strategical policy is recommended. It will provide a framework for all agencies to set priorities and strategies on implementing renewal of derelict areas, the Government to monitor and assess the operations of the agencies; co-ordination of roles and resources of other policies and agencies. With regard to the approach to urban renewal, rehabitation is recommended to prevent and extend the life of private buildings provided that those areas where refurbishment is viable and without inflicted with serious planning problems. To avoid bearing the market risk which renewal projects are highly vulnerable to, it is recommended that similar to the current practice of most overseas agencies, the URA should avoid undertaking the construction of the cleared site. After reviewing the overseas experiences, the URA should be a city-wide agency with multi-function which includes preparation and implementation of urban renewal plans and programmes, facilitating private sectors to implement urban renewal. Also, checking mechanisms are emphasized to ensure sufficient transparency and accountability. In parallel, a high autonomy is proposed to ensure adequate flexibility and authority for the URA to cope with dynamic situations. To address the constraints encountered by the LDC on land assembly and resumption, appropriate amendments to the shortfalls of policies and legislative flaws are recommended in order to speed up the process and to reduce the project costs, it is stressed that the URA should have a direct access to the Chief Executive in Council so that important policy aspects can be resolved speedily to avoid bureaucratic obstructions. Furthermore, while the URA should retain an independent financial status, a mechanism should be formulated to enable the URA to secure continuous financial injection from the Government.

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