Officials will likely greenlight plans to raze a popular kids’ cycle playground on Friday, making way for a car park and wet market complex in Kowloon City Walled Park, according to clandestine town planning documents exposed by a local environmental campaigner.
The plans, which form part of a massive redevelopment of Kowloon City’s Carpenter Road district, will see the figure-of-eight cycle playground in Carpenter Road Park bulldozed and merged into the “holistic replanning and restructuring of the area”, according to Urban Renewal Authority (URA) documents seen by Transit Jam.
Campaigner Mary Mulvihill says there were no statutory notices posted around the cycle park alerting parents and users to its imminent demise and, as such, she says, there was very little objection raised to official Town Planning Board consultations.
With few objections, insiders say the project will likely be rubber-stamped by the Town Planning Board and move into the planning stage.
According to Town Planning Board documents, building a 122-bay loading area and wet market within the park boundaries will allow more residential and commercial activities in the main Carpenter Road development.
While URA has defended its “small street, small shop” approach to the development as community-minded, Mulvihill says such a claim is “hilarious”. She fears the plans will result in a neighbourhood along the lines of Wan Chai’s Lee Tung Street – also known as Wedding Card Street before its redevelopment – where a public street was essentially turned into a private luxury apartment complex with a high-end mall.
“The current popular and affordable and family-run businesses will be replaced with boutiques selling a lot of useless crap, twee coffee shops and costly eateries,” she wrote to the Town Planning Board as one of a only a very few dissenters to the project.
“Existing community will be eliminated, public streets will be privatized and ‘managed’ and fake ‘open space’ that will be essentially commercial in nature is touted as a community benefit,” she wrote.
URA responded that the spaces “with quality landscaping will provide the public spacious areas for diversified activities, ranging from passive recreation and active event activities [sic]” and that retail shops at ground level will bring “vibrant streetscapes and activities”.
But Mulvihill points out the park is an essential outdoor space for a community which has, according to her calculations, a 55% deficit in local open space.
The use of the park was “yet another sleight of hand on the part of URA to maximize its revenue by taking over community space”
The park, said Mulvihill, was “outside the boundary of the URA project – it cannot annex 6,600 sq m of public recreational space in this manner”.
The Town Planning Board will discuss the project on Friday at an open meeting in North Point.
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