Speech by SDEV at Urban Renewal Authority 15th Anniversary Cocktail Reception (English only)

Following is the speech by the Secretary for Development, Mr Paul Chan, at the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) 15th Anniversary Cocktail Reception today (June 10):

Chief Executive, Victor (Chairman of URA, Mr Victor So), Daniel (Managing Director of URA, Mr Daniel Lam), Dr Liu (First CEO of the Urban Redevelopment Authority, Singapore, and keynote speaker of URA International Conference, Dr Liu Thai Ker), distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen,

Good evening. 

It is my great pleasure to join you all at the cocktail reception this evening to mark the 15th anniversary of the establishment of the Urban Renewal Authority (URA).  

I am glad to learn that there were active discussions and fruitful exchanges among the participants at the conference held earlier today on how best to take forward the work of urban renewal in future. In the coming few minutes, let us turn our clock back and celebrate this precious moment of the URA on its 15th birthday.

The URA has been a staunch supporter of the Government's urban renewal policies and a key player in taking forward the urban regeneration programme in Hong Kong. Since taking up the baton from the Land Development Corporation in 2001, the URA has assumed the huge responsibility of promoting urban renewal in Hong Kong, upgrading the built environment of our city and providing a better living environment for our people. 

The URA's achievements in rejuvenating the older urban areas over the past 15 years are for all to see. For our friends from overseas, I strongly recommend you to pay a visit to Vision City in Tsuen Wan and Langham Place in Mong Kok and get a feel of how the URA has, in collaboration with the joint venture developers, transformed these rundown areas into new growth engines. These two projects are located at the hearts of two busy districts with a combined population of about 600 000 people. In addition to providing new space for residential, office, hotel and commercial use, the successful redevelopments have radiated and catalysed a quantum leap in economic activities in their neigbouring areas. Some 10 years further down the road when we celebrate the 25th or 30th anniversary of the URA, we should be able to witness another metamorphosis in Kowloon East, where the URA is undertaking the largest project in its history in Kwun Tong Town Centre, just a mile across Victoria Harbour. What the URA has been doing is not just an upgrading of physical structures but the regeneration of a city and the associated social and economic activities.

Time and again, we keep emphasising that urban renewal is not a "slash and burn" process. While the changes initiated by redevelopment are more vivid and telling, I wish to also congratulate the URA for their good work in building rehabilitation. Throughout the years, the URA has made tremendous contributions in this area, and provided private property owners with different kinds of financial, technical and professional support to help upkeep our built environment and extend the lifespans of private buildings. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the URA for swiftly responding to the Chief Executive's Policy Address this year by launching a pilot scheme to assist building owners to reduce the risk of bid-rigging in the course of rehabilitation works.

Indeed, the Pilot Scheme is not the only example of the URA's swift response to address the community's changing needs. The URA has also responded to the Chief Executive's call last year to help increase subsidised flat supply to address the home owning aspirations of the people. The URA launched a Subsidised Sale Flats scheme at its development in Kai Tak this January to provide more home ownership opportunities for middle-income families. 

The URA's achievements over the past 15 years serve as a springboard for it to get to the next level. To achieve this, I know that Victor, Daniel and the URA management team have been working tirelessly and creatively to explore new ways to upgrade our built environment and regenerate our urban areas in a sustainable manner. I look forward to the URA's many more achievements in years to come.

Ladies and gentlemen, please join me in congratulating once again the URA on its 15th anniversary. Thank you very much.

Ends/Friday, June 10, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:29