18 February 2019
A file photo shows people staging a protest at Cadogan Street Temporary Garden, calling for preservation of the green area in Kennedy Town. Credit: Facebook/protectktngp
A file photo shows people staging a protest at Cadogan Street Temporary Garden, calling for preservation of the green area in Kennedy Town. Credit: Facebook/protectktngp

Govt must rethink Kennedy Town garden demolition plan

More than 5,000 people have signed up on a petition to express their objection to a planned demolition of the Cadogan Street Temporary Garden in Kennedy Town.

The park had been incorporated into a Kennedy Town development plan last year and was scheduled to be demolished in 2016 to make way for the construction of private residences.

The plan would result in another 10,000 people moving into the district, putting heavier pressure on its already fully loaded traffic system.

Local residents in the Western District fear increased traffic jams and reduced recreational areas. As of now, several main roads in the district are already packed with vehicles.

The Transport Department has confirmed that there is no way to expand the Victoria Road. It plans to build a footbridge across the promenade, and local residents will lose an open area.

The government intends to earmark the land for a private residential project. According to the plan, a car park will be built underground, and bus terminal on the ground level. The land use will be changed so that it can be used for residential purposes.

Under the plan, the building’s first three floors will serve as a district hall. If so, the residential units will start from the fourth floor.

The government has turned a deaf ear to the complaints of local residents.

The redevelopment of the park area may take up to 10 years, which means residents in the community will suffer from endless noise and air pollution from the construction site for a decade.

Authorities have not offered any data or solid explanation to justify the project. The plan also fails to take into account the potential impact from the East Lantau Metropolis plan.

The average public space for residents in Kennedy Town is only 0.77 square meter per person, far below the standard of 2 sq m. Although officials have said that there will be a waterfront promenade, the demolishment and ground decontamination works will take time.

And local residents will lose a public recreation area forever.

Many elderly citizens go for morning and afternoon exercises in Cadogan Street Temporary Garden. During holidays, the park is used by families and domestic helpers for recreational purposes and also for community activities.

The park has a lot of trees and grass, as well as birds, butterflies and bats. It plays a key role in reducing carbon dioxide and conserving biodiversity. It also enables local residents to enjoy the natural world.

However, the government has ignored the public’s demand for green amenities and healthy life. As many as 26 legislators have requested the government to improve the plan and launch consultation with residents.

The Planning Department and the Development Bureau have both let people down. Hopefully, the Town Planning Board, which is set to take a key decision on the project approval, won’t become a rubber stamp and forget its duty to call for compliance of all rules and procedures.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 8 under the pen name Man Tsing.

Translation by Julie Zhu

[Chinese version 中文版]

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