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The Yau Ma Tei and Mong Kok districts are densely populated with a high proportion of aged buildings, many of which have exceeded the development density permitted under the existing planning and legislation limits, thereby creating immense challenges to urban renewal. In 2017, the Urban Renewal Authority (URA) commenced the Study covering an area of about 212 hectares to explore ways of enhancing the efficiency of land use and the redevelopment potential in the two districts.

The Study has developed three versions of Master Urban Renewal Concept Plans (MRCPs) with varying development intensity. It has also identified in the two districts five urban renewal opportunity areas with different planning themes and development nodes intended to be sizeable district landmarks with high-rise developments.

Master Urban Renewal Concept Plans (MRCPs)
The whole Study Area is divided into five urban renewal opportunity areas with different place-making themes: Mong Kok East and Mong Kok West – Exuberant Commercial District, Tai Kok Tsui – Park-side Community, Yau Ma Tei North & Yau Ma Tei South– Living Heritage.

Three sets of MRCPs, “+”, “0” and “-”, are developed with varying development intensity, design population and resource implications. The “+” scenario envisions growth and livability, focusing on steering economic growth, and is designed to generate an increase in GFA (but leans more on non-domestic GFA) within the limits of infrastructure and planning capacity. The “-” scenario aspires to create a livable city with major restructuring and population thin-out, requiring higher level of Government initiatives. The “0” scenario lies in the middle ground and seeks to maintain existing permissible level of development under the Outline Zoning Plan with improvement in livability. The design population is capped at the existing level (213,000) and ranges from 150,000 (30% decrease) to 213,000.

Five Development Nodes (DNs)
Under the broad thematic framework of the UROAs, five DNs are proposed. They are located at strategic locations, highly accessible and within walking distance from MTR stations.

(1) Nullah Road Urban Waterway in Mong Kok East
It is proposed to turn the existing nullah at Flower Street Path into a waterway for public enjoyment, with a sizeable Waterway Park, a reconfigured Boundary Street Recreation Ground and a new GIC complex on the Boundary Street frontage. The park, coupled with revitalisation of Flower Market Road and the preservation of Tong Laus at Prince Edward Road West, will regenerate the Flower Market vicinity into a hub of the area, offering a recreational and leisure outlet amid the hustle and bustle of Mong Kok. The waterway will be extended across Prince Edward Road West to Nathan Road with commercial (high-rise development and low-rise strip) and residential development on both sides.

(2) Argyle Street Commercial/Integration Hub in Mong Kok East
A comprehensive mixed-use development with a sizeable open plaza fronting Argyle Street is proposed at the gateway of Mong Kok East. The development is well located at the converging point of at-grade character streets (Tung Choi Street and Fa Yuen Street), elevated walkway (Mong Kok Road Footbridge) as well as Mong Kok East and Mong Kok MTR Stations, facilitating pedestrian connectivity and walkability.

(3) Mong Kok Market Revitalisation in Mong Kok West
At the western entry of Mong Kok near Langham Place, a new destination for locals and visitors will be created, with the consolidation of the existing on-street market stalls into a special “Market Hall” while retaining the “street-form” configuration and integrating with other retail and food and beverages functions. An undulating, sizeable open space (1.8 hectares), with mixed uses of residential and commercial developments will be provided on top of the podium. The market hall architecture, creating a “Market in the Park” ambience, will transform this old urban area into a new leisure and community landmark and a tourist destination.

(4) Yau Ma Tei Fruit Market (YMTFM) in Yau Ma Tei North
Given the high historic, cultural and architectural values of YMTFM, it is proposed to revitalise this heritage site into a tourist attraction node while preserving its special values. The existing wholesale operations are proposed to be relocated to a new Multi-Storey Building with topside commercial development at the adjoining Hau Cheung Street. The YMTFM will be preserved with fruit-retailing and other tourism-related uses, complementing by a new boutique hotel, open space and art and cultural uses to the south.

(5) West Kowloon Gateway in Yau Ma Tei South
At the south-western gateway where the West Kowloon Terminus, Austin MTR Station and the various railway lines converge, a major development node with cluster of Super Grade A offices, mixed uses (retail, hotel, arts and cultural uses) and residential components is proposed. Series of sizeable and attractive open space together with a public transport interchange and convenient pedestrian passageways will be provided, forming a popular gathering place. The new iconic landmark development will serve as an extension from West Kowloon and Tsim Sha Tsui.

Street Consolidation Areas (SCAs)
The road layout in the Study Area was based on a grid system with a relatively high percentage (40%) of road space. With rationalisation of the road network, the Study has identified a number of roads for closure for pedestrian and open space use. Adjoining small street blocks are amalgamated to form more cohesive redevelopment sites which could be used for both affordable housing and private residential/mixed use developments.

Within the SCAs, developments are either developed comprehensively as a whole or carved into smaller land parcels for holistic development. The road closure area is proposed to be countable for GFA calculation thus providing incentive for private participation in urban renewal.

The identification of SCAs is largely based on road closure and urban decay considerations. The overall traffic and transport network will not be adversely affected. The amount of open space generated by this method is in the order of 5.44 hectares.

Other Special Design
Apart from DNs and SCAs, the Study has identified several special areas which are of a smaller scale but contain unique characteristics for development / revitalisation to add to the diversity of YM districts, with the more notable ones set out below –

(1) Tai Kok Tsui Activity Node (AN)
The proposal is to relocate the existing Anchor Street Sewage Pumping Station for upgrading works, while the current site could be released for comprehensive redevelopment together with the adjoining New Kowloon Plaza and nearby aged buildings to form a larger mixed-use community/commercial hub serving the neighbourhood. The AN is proposed in MRCP+ only.

(2) Youth Cultural Place in Mong Kok
Synergizing with URA’s 618 Shanghai Street project, a strip of buildings in its vicinity is proposed to be redeveloped as a youth cultural place with mixed uses for co-working / co-living and arts and cultural event spaces catering for youths.

(3) Cultural Belt / Civic Node in Yau Ma Tei
Reorganising the series of government sites along Kansu Street to create a celebrated “cultural belt” centering around Yung Shue Tau (Ting Hau Temple) at the heart of Yau Ma Tei. A new architectural iconic building will be constructed at the ex-multi-storey carpark site consolidating nearby civic uses including a new “Jade Market Hall”, cooked food hawker bazaar, government offices, community hall etc., and a system of open spaces synergizing with Temple Street Night Market, heritage sites and SCA in the vicinity.

(4) Heritage Destinations
Buildings of historical or architectural significance are identified in the Study. Proposals have also been made to turn the Hi Lung Lane area into a low-rise cluster, mimicking the Pak Sha Road area in Causeway Bay providing outlets for mixed uses. A heritage trail connecting these heritage buildings and sites, coupled with the re-vitalisation of the YMTFM nearby, will form a unique tourism and cultural destination for the district.

(5) Character Streets
The existing Flower Market Road, Tung Choi Street, Fa Yuen Street and Temple Street are key attributes to the unique identity of Yau Mong District. To sustain the future growth and evolution of these character streets, planning and design guidelines are proposed which include footpath widening, signage, part-time pedestrianisation and rezoning adjoining areas for mixed areas to encourage flexibility for commercial uses and vibrancy through future redevelopment.

Open Space
A comprehensive and interconnected open space network is proposed through the creation of new urban parks or expansion of existing parks, integrated provision within DNs (minimum 30% of development area) and other designated redevelopment sites, selected road closure or building setback for open space corridors, and face-lifting of existing parks. With the planned provision of open space for MRCP “+” and “0” based on a standard of 2.5 square metres per person while that for “-” is 3.5 square metres per person, the overall provision of open space for MRCP+, 0 and - is in the order of 48 hectares, 43 hectares and 45 hectares respectively. Major components include:

(1) urban waterway and GreenLink will become two essential open space spines in the district, creating a strong inter-district open space “NorthSouth axis”;

(2) various open space features of unique themes such as Waterway Park, Central Urban Park, Nano Park system, Heritage Park, as well as integrated open space within DNs shall form major attraction points along this axis;

(3) six east-west running green corridors/linear parks could also further synergise with other local parks, Nano Park system and major character streets within the district to promote vibrancy and connectivity;

(4) setbacks are proposed along Waterloo Road and Dundas Street to turn these major roads into green boulevards; and

(5) the proposed GreenLink on the west will link up with the pedestrian facilities at Central Kowloon Route and West Kowloon Terminus Landscape Deck to form an elevated pedestrian network connecting the West Kowloon to Tai Kok Tsui and Mong Kok.

The outcomes of the Yau Mong District Study will encompass strategies and initiatives for redevelopment, rehabilitation, preservation and revitalisation, with an addition of retrofitting. Smart city and place making initiatives will also be integrated into the Yau Mong District Study, with an aim to enhance the effectiveness of urban renewal.

Subsequent to the discussion at the LegCo Panel on Development, URA will consult professional institutes and other relevant stakeholders including District Council, the Real Estate Developers Association and TPB on the proposed recommendations and implementation details of the planning tools. With the benefit of views received, URA will further discuss with the Administration and flesh out the implementation details. URA will identify and initiate early projects from the MRCP proposals. For large-scale redevelopment to be spearheaded by URA, undertake further technical review at detailed design stage, sort out issues such as decanting and rehousing as appropriate and consult District Council at project implementation stage.

Complimentary copies available to members of the following associations:

The Hong Kong Construction Association
Macau Coustruction Association
Hong Kong General Building Contractors Association
Hong Kong Institute of Utility Specialists
China Hongkong Society for Trenchless Technology Association
Hong Kong Construction Materials Association Limited
Contractor's Authorised Signatory Association
Hong Kong Construction Machinery Association