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LCQ20: Area Improvement Plan for Shopping Areas of Mong Kok
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     Following is a question by the Hon James To Kun-sun and a written reply by the Secretary for Development, Mrs Carrie Lam, in the Legislative Council today (March 21):

Question:

     In May 2009, the Planning Department completed the study on the Area Improvement Plan for the Shopping Areas of Mong Kok (Area Improvement Plan), which identified four streams of improvement initiatives and recommended 22 projects (including the Sai Yee Street redevelopment project, etc.).  Besides, to enhance the shopping areas and pedestrian experience in Mong Kok, the Transport Department (TD) and the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) have also launched various related projects in recent years.  In this connection, will the Government inform this Council:

(a) of the progress of the 22 improvement projects in the Area Improvement Plan, including details of the completed projects, work progress and anticipated completion dates of the uncompleted projects, as well as the commencement dates and anticipated completion dates of the projects which have not yet commenced;

(b) of the work progress of the reprovisioning of the New Territories West Regional Office of the Water Supplies Department and the neighbouring Food and Environmental Hygiene Department depot in the Sai Yee Street redevelopment project; when it will conduct traffic assessment and preliminary work and commence public consultation on the project of developing the Sai Yee Street redevelopment site into a public transport interchange;

(c) of the progress of the plan proposed by TD last year on widening the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Argyle Street and Nathan Road, and when such plan is expected to be implemented; and

(d) whether it knows the progress of the plan launched by URA in 2008 on the revitalisation of the tenement buildings at Prince Edward Road West and Shanghai Street, and when such plan is expected to be implemented and completed?

Reply:

President,

     The study on "Area Improvement Plan for the Shopping Areas of Mong Kok" completed by the Planning Department (PlanD) in May 2009 has recommended 22 improvement projects, among which the following six have been announced by the Government to be priority projects designated for early implementation:

(a) Tung Choi Street (Goldfish market) Streetscape Improvement Project;
(b) Nullah Road Greening Project;
(c) Lai Chi Kok Road Greening Project;
(d) Nullah Road Linkage Improvement Project;
(e) Prince Edward Road West Linkage Improvement Project; and
(f) Soy Street Destination Project

     Having completed/commenced three redevelopment projects (Langham Place, Sai Yee Street Project and Macpherson Stadium Project) and two preservation projects (Prince Edward Road West/Yuen Ngai Street Project and Shanghai Street/Argyle Street Project) in the Mong Kok District, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) accepted the Government's invitation to assist in implementing the local improvement initiatives under projects (a) to (c) (including Tung Choi Street Streetscape Improvement Project, part of the Nullah Road Greening Project, and Lai Chi Kok Road Greening Project) with a view to achieving synergy effect.

     My reply to the four-part question of the Hon To is as follows:

(a) Progress of the Six Priority Projects:

(i) Tung Choi Street Streetscape Improvement Project

     The URA has commissioned consultants to work out the design of the streetscape improvement, with the Yau Tsim Mong District Council consulted on February 24, 2011.  The detailed design proposal was submitted to the government departments concerned (Leisure and Cultural Services Department (LCSD), Transport Department (TD) and Highways Department (HyD)) in September 2011 for their examination and approval.  Upon approval of the improvement project, construction work, estimated to last for 18 months, will commence.

(ii) Nullah Road Greening Project

     The URA is responsible for landscaping the site of the former petrol filling station at Nullah Road near Tung Choi Street.  As the TD is planning to convert the said site into a vehicular access connecting Tung Choi Street and Prince Edward Road West, the URA will discuss with the LCSD on the improvements works for the remaining area once the TDs plan has been implemented.  It is estimated that the improvements works will take 12 months to complete.

     As regards the site of another former petrol filling station at Nullah Road near Nathan Road, landscaping works have been completed by the Yau Tsim Mong District Council and an open space for public enjoyment has been created.

(iii) Lai Chi Kok Road Greening Project

     The URA plans to come up with a preliminary design of the Lai Chi Kok Road Greening Project in the fourth quarter of 2012 for discussions with the LCSD and Yau Tsim Mong District Council.  Once consensus is reached with the LCSD on the landscaping works, the URA will commence construction, which is expected to take 12 months.

(iv) Nullah Road Linkage Improvement Project

     The TD and HyD are concurrently carrying out works for this project, with completion scheduled within 2012.

(v) Prince Edward Road West Linkage Improvement Project

     The widening of the pedestrian crossing north of Sai Yee Street near Prince Edward Road West has been completed.  The TD and HyD are now undertaking construction works for the remaining parts of this linkage project.

(vi) Soy Street Destination Project

     A community centre serving local residents has been proposed under this project, and the government departments concerned are now engaged in further discussions on the implementation details.

     Apart from the above six priority projects, there are 16 other recommended improvement projects which are categorised into short, medium and long term projects. Relevant government departments and implementation agents will continue to play different roles in the steering, implementation and maintenance of the recommended projects under the existing institutional arrangements.  The recommended short-term improvement projects, including the Yim Po Fong Street Linkage Improvement Project, the junction improvement of Nathan Road/Argyle Street and the decking of nullah at Flower Market Road, have all been completed.

     For the recommended medium-term improvement projects, such as the improvement of the existing streetscape, footbridges and subways, conceptual schemes with design features and improvement measures have been devised under the study, but a more detailed design needs to be worked out.  Besides, the diversion works of the underground utilities for the Mong Kok Footbridge Extension project at Mong Kok Road across Nathan Road as initiated by the private developer have commenced.

     The long-term projects recommended by the study involving reprovisioning of existing facilities, such as the Sai Yee Street Destination Project and Sai Yee Street Streetscape Improvement Project, require more detailed study and liaison among the government departments concerned.  The progress of the Sai Yee Street Destination Project is set out in Part (b) of the reply.

(b) Subsequent to funding approval by the Finance Committee of the Legislative Council, the Water Supplies Department (WSD) engaged a consultant in August 2011 to help procure a suitable industrial building for conversion to accommodate its existing New Territories West Regional Office.  The consultant has since carried out a site search to identify industrial buildings meeting relevant requirements for more detailed examination.  The WSD and the departments concerned are currently working with the consultant on the findings and recommendations, with a view to completing the conversion works by late 2015 at the earliest.  Meanwhile, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) is also considering the feasibility of relocating its Sai Yee Street facilities to West Kowloon, and preliminary planning is underway.

     The study has also recommended the provision of a public transport interchange (PTI) under the Sai Yee Street project (covering the site currently housing the WSD and FEHD facilities at Sai Yee Street and the adjoining temporary car park) in future.  The PlanD is examining the details with the government departments concerned.  The preliminary proposal is to have commercial development above the PTI, with widening of the adjoining footpaths and connection with the footbridge system, provision of public open space and preservation of the existing mature trees on the site.  The PlanD plans to consult the Yau Tsim Mong District Council on the development proposal within this year.  

     The TD will study the possibility of relocating some of the green minibus, red minibus or cross-boundary bus services in the area to the proposed PTI, and draw up the corresponding planning and technical requirements for the transport facilities.  Upon completion of the planning work by the departments concerned, the TD will accordingly arrange for traffic impact assessment to cater for future traffic demand.

(c) The pedestrian crossing across Nathan Road, located south of the junction between Argyle Street and Nathan Road, is one of the pedestrian crossings with relatively high pedestrian flow in Mong Kok area.  To further improve the pedestrian circulation at this pedestrian crossing, the TD has proposed to widen the crossing from 12 metres to 15 metres.  The TD has conducted local consultation on the proposal, which has received support.  The HyD is now making arrangements for pre-construction investigation works, including ground investigation, and will discuss with the relevant departments on the temporary traffic arrangements.  The actual schedule of the widening works can only be confirmed upon completion of the investigation works.

(d) In his 2007-08 Policy Address, the Chief Executive requested the URA to extend the scope of historic building protection to cover pre-war buildings and to consider not just preservation but also ways of revitalisation.  Subsequently, the URA announced in March 2008 the extension of the scope of its preservation strategy to cover efforts to preserve 48 pre-war verandah type shophouses in the territory.

     In September 2008, to dovetail with the Government's policy, the URA commenced two projects at Prince Edward Road West and Shanghai Street respectively, each involving a row of 10 verandah-style pre-war shophouses of heritage value for preservation and revitalisation.

     Upon completion of the statutory planning procedures of the two projects, the URA commenced acquisition work in March 2011 and has made resumption application to the Government within 12 months after the approval of the Development Scheme Plans by the Chief Executive in Council in accordance with the Urban Renewal Authority Ordinance.  As at early March 2012, the URA had successfully acquired ownership of 56% and 75% of the properties under the Prince Edward Road West Project and the Shanghai Street Project respectively.

     The URA has proposed that the Shanghai Street Project should aim at enhancing local characteristics through heritage preservation and revitalisation.  It is now conducting a study on themes compatible with the local characteristics.  As the URA has acquired ownership of over 70% of the properties under the the Shanghai Street Project, it is estimated that the land resumption procedures can commence within 2012-13, and rehabilitation works will be carried out immediately thereafter to implement the theme.

     As for the Prince Edward Road West/Yuen Ngai Street Project, the URA's preliminary proposal is to retain as far as practicable the existing shops that match the flower market characteristics and to incorporate elements of an arts and cultural theme.  The URA is now conducting an open invitation for expression of interest to look for a non-governmental organisation to use one of the acquired shops at Prince Edward Road West for arts and cultural purposes.  In addition, the URA has successfully acquired two adjoining verandah-style shophouses under this project, and its plan is to carry out rehabilitation works once the last occupant has moved out.  It is estimated that works will commence in 2012-13.

Ends/Wednesday, March 21, 2012
Issued at HKT 14:31

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