"Bottom-up Approach" Proposed by Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) Review Steering Committee in Line with RICS(HK)’ Recommendations to Development Bureau

from http://www.prnasia.com/pr/10/05/100088412-1.html
HONG KONG, May 17 /PRNewswire-Asia/ -- Entering into the final stage of URS Review’s consultation, the URS Review Steering Committee announced its final recommendations on 11 May.
The 3 key new measures are:
(1) To set up district urban renewal forum in old districts to plan for redevelopment, rehabilitation and preservation. The forum will be chaired by government-appointed professionals with UR expertises, and comprise of community representatives.

(2) To offer a "flat-for-flat" option besides cash compensation based on the market value of a seven-year-old flat in the same district, but the affected owners must pay the price difference between market value of the new flat and cash compensation.

(3) For owners-initiated redevelopment projects, URA will act as a facilitator, and help owners to assemble titles and tender the project to developers but compensation mechanism would not apply.

Other recommendations including redevelopment and rehabilitation will remain the key focus of URA, and the social impact assessments should be carried out at district level and on project-based.

RICS(HK) URS Review Task Force fully supports the proposed bottom-up approach as this would create less social oppositions by involving the public participation by the local community right from the beginning of the project, i.e. planning stage, and to facilitate the public involvement. The location of proposed redevelopment projects will also be announced to the public well in advance.

Regarding the proposed reforms, Mr David Tse, Chairman of RICS Hong Kong URS Review Task Force, and External Affairs and Public Concerns Committee, says, "Ever since the announcement of the URS Review back in July 2008, our URS Review Task Force has been proactively and continually participating in all 3 consultation stages of the URS Review, and in particular, we organised an URS Conference on 25 July 2009 by inviting three overseas UR experts as speakers to share their best practices and experiences in their respective overseas successful UR projects. We are indeed very pleased to see many of our recommendations in URS have now been adopted by the Steering Committee of URS Review, and all our hard works that URS Review Task Force have put in over the past few years are well worth."

Mr Denys Kwan, Member of RICS Hong Kong External Affairs Committee, says, "I have been advocating the bottom-up approach for a long time, as it would create less resistance from the people who is affected. They know what they want and they can have their own inputs from the start. On the other hand, the future role for URA as a facilitator is also welcomed. I also support the ‘flat-for-flat’ approach which offers another option from the existing cash compensation."

New Measures are in line with RICS(HK)’s recommendations submitted to Development Bureau

In a letter dated 5 January 2010 to Development Bureau, RICS(HK) has proposed, amongst other recommendations, the following proactive measures, which are in line with the above new measures released by the Steering Committee of URS on 11 May 2010:

(1) Public engagement mechanism

RICS suggested of conducting public consultation through local focus groups, by inviting members of local District Boards, IOCs, and other local residents to share their opinions and views on the proposed redevelopment projects in their respective districts.

(2) URA’s role as facilitator or service provider

RICS proposed URA could take the role of a facilitator or a service provider to assist the various private building owners and/or the developers, at a service charge, to designate the respective old urban areas in question, either for redevelopment or rehabilitation as appropriate, and on a self-financing basis with all costs borne by the respective building owners and/or the developers.

(3) The need for social impact assessment or social cost-benefit analysis

RICS suggested it is necessary to assess the less intangible social benefits or effects (direct, e.g. public space, indirect, e.g. health and safety, external e.g. air quality, and distributional, e.g. employment) of an urban renewal project e.g. by carrying out a Social Cost-Benefit Analysis. UR cannot be sustainable if the people and the environment are not taken into account, but in the end it needs to be made economic sense.

(4) The "flat-for-flat" option

RICS suggested "flat-for-flat" option, but the property should be determined by market value instead of area size due to fluctuating market price under unforeseen circumstances.

RICS Urban Renewal Strategy Review Task Force

The RICS(HK)’s URS Review Task Force was set up in August 2008, right after the announcement of review of the Urban Renewal Strategy by The Secretary for Development, Mrs. Carrie Lam. The Task Force, chaired by Mr. David Tse (Chair of Planning & Development Professional Group Committee), consists of experienced FRICS members from different Professional Groups which cover the wide variety professional expertise necessary for urban renewal projects, including Building Control, Building Surveying, Facilities Management, Planning and Development, Project Management, Quantity Surveying and Construction, and Valuation etc. The Task Force met with representatives from Development Bureau, URA and other related government bodies regularly, and present its professional advices and recommendations on URS for their considerations.

About RICS & RICS Asia

RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors) is the mark of property professionalism worldwide. It covers all aspects of property, construction and associated environmental issues. RICS has 140,000 members globally and represents, regulates and promotes the work of property professionals throughout 122 countries.

The RICS Asia supports a network of over 11,000 individual professionals across the Asia Pacific region with an objective to help develop the property and construction markets in these countries, by introducing professional standards, best practice and international experience. It promotes RICS and its members as the natural advisors on all property matters. It also ensures that services and career development opportunities are provided to members.

The RICS Asia region covers national associations and local groups locating in Brunei, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, The People’s Republic of China and the SAR Hong Kong. It also has members working across the region such as Bangladesh, Bhutan, Burma/Myanmar, Cambodia, Indonesia, Japan, Kiribati, Laos PDR, Macao, Mongolia, Nepal, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan, The Maldives, The Philippines, Timor East and Vietnam. For more information, please visit: http://www.ricsasia.org .

Media enquiry, please contact:

RICS Asia Public Relations Representative
Ms Belinda Chan / Ms Ava Lau
Tel: +852-2372-0090
Fax: +852-2372-0490
Mobile: +852-9379-3045 / +852-9829-2913
Email: belinda@creativegp.com / ava@creativegp.com

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