The last two households in Nga Tsin Wai Tsuen, the last remaining walled village in Kowloon City, have finally arrived at a settlement with the Urban Renewal Authority.
They have moved out of the 600-year-old village, Apple Daily reported Tuesday.
Kwok Yu-ka, who owned a barber shop in the village, said he had to reluctantly accept the URA’s proposal, as the penalty for not complying is simply too strict at HK$10,000 (US$1,283) a day, a fine of up to HK$1 million and imprisonment of six months.
“I have no alternative but to bow down,” Kwok said Monday, after spending his first night at new accommodation arranged by the URA.
Kwok has to pay HK$900 a month for his transitional home, which is only 90 square feet in size and significantly smaller than his 300 sq ft home in the old village.
While Kwok has also accepted a URA proposal to resume his business at the redeveloped site in several years’ time, he is unsure if he will be able to afford the rent, which will be HK$600 a month during the first three years, rising to HK$3,000 a month in the fourth year and HK$6,000 in the fifth year onward.
A man surnamed Fan, who owned a small cutlery shop, moved out of the village in September last year.
He was back there Monday to witness the last day of the village before it is demolished.
Fan said developers had been trying to acquire the site of the village for over three decades without success.
“They only succeeded when the URA stepped in with the introduction of heavy penalties from the Land Resumption Ordinance and Land (Miscellaneous Provisions) Regulations,” he said.
“Now Cheung Kong is reaping the benefits, which is yet another typical example of collusion between business and government.”
Villagers including Fan are hitting out at the URA for maximizing its monetary return and pushing conservation down the priority list.
A Development Bureau representative said the people concerned occupied land that wasn’t leased out and approved by the Lands Department, so the authorities requested that they move out.
The URA will partner with Cheung Kong Property Holdings Ltd. to build a residential project on the site that will provide 750 homes with some conservation elements.
The new flats are scheduled for completion in 2018-2019.
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