Secretary for Development, Town Planning Board,
We urge the government to change Cadogan Street Temporary Garden (“the Park’) in the OZP S/H1/20 into a permanent park so as to conserve the only grass park in this area for Kennedy Town residents.
The OZP S/H1/20 (“the Plan”) proposed by the Development Bureau is not supported by the local residents, as over 5000 representation letters were sent to the Town Planning Board (“TPB”) to request the conservation of the Park. Local residents strongly object to the Plan because it will bring many problems to us: the additional burden of new residents will cause traffic jams, demolishing the Park will worsen the shortage of open space and the high risks and costs caused by the decontamination work make people very fearful. Residents have many doubts how such a problematic plan was still put forward to the TPB for approval. We see that the consultation was poorly done and the government just focuses on money, while blatantly disregarding the living environment of current residents.
The decontamination work of the Park and its nearby areas is very undesirable. Its funding request was withdrawn from the Legislative Council Finance Committee in April 2016. In January 2016, The Central and Western District Council also requested the Development Bureau not to gazette the Plan in the TPB as more consultation was needed to be done. However, the Development Bureau still gazetted the Plan at the TPB in February 2016. What is the reason behind this? The decontamination work needs to take 7 years and with the building time added to this, the planned private housing will be finished 10 years from now. This cannot solve the immediate housing needs in Hong Kong. If the government starts to develop brownfield land now, we believe that it will take less than 10 years to supply many more housing units to the market. This is much better than blindly achieving a target number by picking the land from green open space or green zones.
The government wants to take back the Park just to pave the way for building 600 luxury housing units. It is glaringly obvious that the government favours the business conglomerates but ignores the basic needs of the general public. In the Wang Chau incident, the government knelt down before those rich and powerful rural groups and reduced the public housing units from 17,000 to 4,000. But we only ask that the government reduces 600 luxury housing units in exchange for a grass park which has been serving the local residents for 19 years: the motive is selfless. The government can give up 13,000 public housing units in Wang Chau, but we are just talking about 600 luxury units. Why not keep the 17,000 local residents happy and healthy?
I urge the government to change the Park from temporary to permanent, and the remaining part of the Plan should be discussed with local residents so as to satisfy the housing needs and resolve the problems brought by the Plan. The government needs to develop the brownfield policy immediately, instead of going here and there to grab land for building.