Authored by Carine Lai, Civic Exchange launched today a study, titled Treating the Symptoms: A Critical Review of Urban Renewal in Hong Kong. The report is a critical analysis of Hong Kong’s urban renewal policies since 2000, with Hong Kong’s Urban Renewal Authority (URA) as the main focus but not the only one.
Set up in 2000, URA was recognized to oversee redevelopment, rehabilitation, revitalization, and preservation on the urban landscape. Having been operated for ten years, what results have URA policies produced in practice? What impact have they had on our built environment? Are they environmentally, socially, and economically sustainable?
Having reviewed the existing academic literatures on planning and urban renewal, government documents and Legislative Council records, complemented with numerous interviews with cross-sectors experts, this study examined URA’s administrative and financial logic driving its operations, as well as URA’s role within Hong Kong’s political economy. “I went to some of Hong Kong's leading experts on urban planning, land policy, finance, and urban design to ask them deeper questions about Hong Kong's urban renewal policy: Why are our buildings in such bad condition after only a few decades, whereas other cities have buildings that have been standing for centuries? Why is it so hard to get a mortgage on an old flat? The answers I found were fascinating and sometimes surprising”, Carine Lai said.
With extensive photographic documentations, the author also reviewed the effects of urban renewal on Hong Kong’s built environment. Lai added, “What we need to think beyond is not merely how to deal with old buildings, but to look more into how our city works”.