The government will not back down on building light public housing in Kai Tak, Secretary for Housing Winnie Ho Wing-yin confirmed on Thursday, as she said the land on Olympic Avenue “does not come easily.”
At a construction commencement ceremony this morning, Ho told reporters the eight land sites selected are currently the best choices throughout the city, and authorities will not consider other sites.
The controversy arose as residents in Kai Tak strongly opposed the government's move, citing promises that the area would be transformed into the second Central Business District (CBD2) with commercial offices and leisure and sports facilities.
In reply, Ho said: “The long-term use of every land plot in the development plan of Kai Tak has never changed.
“Under the light public housing scheme, we estimated it would take two years for the construction, and citizens would live there for five years.
“When the long-term use of the lands arises five years later, we will return the lands, and I believe the Development Bureau will make further decisions by then.”
Speaking on radio, Kowloon Central legislator Kitson Yang Wing-kit, who earlier retracted a protest application after Ho arranged for a meeting on Sunday (Feb 4), urged authorities to release a timetable on when the light public housing will be removed.
“Residents there are very concerned about authorities' move. Is the government's promise of the CBD2 transformation gone for good? A few years ago, the single-track railway system was also called off, which explains citizens' concern on whether the whole development will go ahead as planned.”
Yang continued that he may have no choice but accept the final outcome. He and lawmaker Doreen Kong Yuk-foon said they would vote against authorities in the Legislative Council's public works subcommittee meeting, pending an official response.
Meanwhile, deputy chief secretary Warner Cheuk Wing-hing wrote on Facebook
that citizens should exercise their “Lion Rock Spirit” and empathy and not only target the project's construction cost, which is higher than that of transitional housing.
The Development Bureau also published a Facebook
post and said the lands in Kai Tak will be released on time following the two-year construction period and five-year tenancy period.