Updates for Committee/ A note in the beginning of fieldwork

It's my fourth day in the field. I still feel far from the real site partly because I am still staying in a hostel on Hong Kong island rather than the studio near Sham Shui Po where I am moving several days later. I emailed several people but have not got positive responses.

My goal for the first phase of field work (05/11-31/12/2010) is to better understand the case of Shunning Road Project regarding debates about revision of Urban Renewal Strategy. The property of the case has been acquired. URA plans to develop this site into a mixed use complex with total area, including 110 Residential flats and Commercial space of 775 square meters. The Shunning Road  Concern Group has been working on a bottom-up proposal against URA's project since last year and presented the proposal to the affected community and the district since Sep. Their proposal has earned support from the Sham Shui Po district council. The move is worth concerning for me in two senses: 1) the proposal is unique in highlighting tenant's right to be relocated on site and its proposal of social housing, which is different from the first bottom-up proposal in Wedding Card Street that focused on property right. 2) The attitude of the district council may suggest spatial politics around urban redevelopment between the district and the URA.

Meanwhile, the government-led public consultation process ended in June 2010, the draft of revised Urban Renewal Strategy (URS) is published in October and to be finalized in the end of this year. In the draft, Urban Renewal Authority's approach is revised from a "people-centered" approach" to a “people-centred, district-based, public participatory” approach. If this will be the case, the Shunning Road Project will be a test to see if the new approach is including a more placed-based, inclusive consideration. Another thread that I am tracing is the white paper prepared by H15 Concern Group in parallel to the government-led revision of URS. I developed the study of the process into a paper with Kit Lam.

Talking to a scholar in Hong Kong, he opined that the Revision of URS is totally misleading the public since what matters at practice is Urban Renewal Ordinance, which has not changed along with the revision of URS in the past two years. He felt apathetic to those concern groups but thought they were not fighting in a right direction. How legitimate is this kind of comment? I will try to figure it out later.

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