'Playground homes' attacked

Top News | Yupina Ng 19 Sep 2016

A green group says it strongly opposes the government's plan to build subsidized housing on a playground in North Point as this would worsen air quality in the district.

The Housing Authority proposed building a block of flats 110 meters tall on the Tin Chiu Street Playground to provide 240 units, according to an Eastern District Council document in April. The plan will soon be put before the Town Planning Board.

The 1,200-square-meter playground comprises a basketball court and a small- scale football field.

"The government proposed allocating the Tin Chiu Street Playground in North Point for housing development and to relocate the affected Tin Chiu Street Playground facilities," according to the document.

"In order to cope with the public housing development, the Tin Chiu Street Playground should be rezoned from 'a government, institution or community facilities' site to 'residential (group A).'"

Green Sense chief executive Roy Tam Hoi-pong said yesterday the building would block a 50-meter-width ventilation breezeway, worsening air quality in the district.

"The location was set as a ventilation breezeway to deal with the wall effect in the district by the previous government, when Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet- ngor was the secretary for development," he said. "The government is now obsessed with land development, which has made a mess of town planning."

Tam said that Shu Kuk Street, Kam Hong Street and Tin Chiu Street are the only three ventilation breezeways in the district.

He said he had to remind the government that the environment in the district had improved in the past eight years, thanks to the three breezeways.

"You cannot ignore the good planning policy of the past," he said.

Tam also said the breezeway on Tin Chiu Street is a major entry for the northeast wind and the tall building would also weaken wind circulation.

The proposed units could house about 630 people, the district council document says. The playground is expected to be turned over to the Housing Authority in 2018.

The building is expected to be completed in 2020. It is likely to be taller than the facing 32-floor Customs and Excise Department Headquarters Building.

Tam suggested the government limit the numbers of immigrants, such as those who hold a one-way permit, to ease the housing problem.

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