Apology from URA after egg-smashing act

Local | Sum Lok-kei 25 Sep 2017

The Urban Renewal Authority's managing director yesterday apologized for failing to keep stakeholders aware of changes in the design of a massive redevelopment of Kwun Tong town center after a unique building shaped like a goose egg disappeared along with another key feature.

The egg idea was applauded when seen in plans laid on people in 2007. But district councillors have just found out it was not included in an authority submission to the Town Planning Board in June.

In a blog post yesterday, URA boss Wai Chi-sing apologized for "inadequate communication" with Kwun Tong District Council but rejected the notion the authority had "broken its promise."

"If you present the incident as averting public consultation or deception I think it is a dismissal of the URA staff's hard work in the past years," Wai said.

Staff had done their best to incorporate public expectations into the design, he said, which included an egg-shaped multipurpose complex and commercial building and a step-like water feature in Yue Man Square park.

The egg-shaped building that was supposed to be built on Hong Ning Road was replaced with a regular mall in the latest submission, Kwun Tong district councillors said. And the water feature has gone.

According to the authority, the changes in design were due to difficulties in reclaiming properties.It is the second time this month the URA has been accused of failing to deliver features promised in redevelopment plans.

Plans for a regeneration project in Mong Kok around the area known as Sneakers Street originally included a garden and a sports "hall of fame." Both have got lost along the way.

Wai said he and the authority have learned lessons from these two recent misses - "scandals" according to critics - and will maintain better communications with district councils and provide explanations when plans are modified.

The authority will also hold back concept art from the public eye to avoid public disappointment, he said.

Civic Party legislator and Kwun Tong district councillor Jeremy Tam Man-ho said that although URA projects often take public opinion into account in drafting designs there is no public involvement after projects are launched and changes made.

Even URA board members were not informed about changes in the Kwun Tong, he said. The Kwun Tong redevelopment project is the URA's largest, covering 570,000 square feet. It takes in more than 1,600 properties and affects about 5,000 citizens.

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