Hong Kong 2003
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Urban Renewal

The Chief Executive announced in his 1999 Policy Address the setting up of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) to replace the Land Development Corporation and to expedite urban renewal. The URA was established in May 2001 to undertake a 20-year urban renewal programme. In November 2001, the Government promulgated the Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) after wide public consultation, setting out the policy guidelines for the URA in the implementation of the urban renewal programme.

The purpose of urban renewal is to improve the environment of the older urban areas and the living conditions of the residents therein through a comprehensive and holistic approach comprising the redevelopment of dilapidated buildings, the promotion of the rehabilitation of older buildings, the revitalisation of old districts and the preservation of buildings of historical, cultural or architectural interest.

The Government has put in place a financial support package for the URA to enable it to launch the urban renewal programme on a sound financial footing. In May 2002, the Executive Council approved in principle land grants at nominal premium for urban renewal sites. The Finance Committee of the Legislative Council also approved in June 2002 a commitment of $10 billion for equity injection into the URA in phases from 2002-03 to 2006-07. A total of $4 billion had been injected into the URA by year-end.

To facilitate the implementation of the urban renewal programme, the Housing, Planning and Lands Bureau keeps under close review the delivery of the programme in the annual examination of the URA's five-year Corporate Plan and annual Business Plan; provides the necessary support and policy guidance to the URA; monitors and facilitates the implementation of individual projects, including vetting development projects having regard to any objections raised under the statute; oversees land resumption and clearance exercises to be undertaken by the Lands Department; and will review the URS regularly to take account of the community's changing needs.

The Planning Department supports the operation of the URA from the planning perspective so as to optimise the community benefits of URA projects and to ensure compliance with the statutory planning requirements. The department undertakes planning studies to assist in the formulation and review of the URS and will develop a comprehensive geographical information system to allow for the sharing of information on building conditions among various government departments for the purpose of drawing up and updating the rehabilitation and urban renewal programme. In addition, the department is involved in processing development schemes and master layout plans submitted by the URA for the Town Planning Board's consideration; and coordinating the provision of infrastructure, government, institution or community facilities and open space in URA projects.

The URA has made steady progress in taking forward a comprehensive urban renewal programme. By December, it had launched 13 redevelopment projects, two of which are carried out by the Hong Kong Housing Society (HKHS) under the URA/HKHS strategic partnership in urban renewal. In October, the URA extended its voluntary building rehabilitation pilot scheme whereby material incentives and technical assistance are provided to owners of old buildings to encourage them to undertake preventive maintenance. The URA also began a number of revitalisation projects during the year to renew the environment and economic fabric of old districts.

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