A Kennedy Town park will remain open to the public after the Town Planning Board on Thursday rejected a proposal to develop private housing on the site.

The Cadogan Street Temporary Garden was set to be bulldozed to make way for 600 to 700 new flats. The demolition was scheduled for the first quarter of last year, but it was suspended after the legislature’s Finance Committee blocked funding for the plan.

Cadogan Street Temporary Garden
Banner at the Cadogan Street Temporary Garden. Photo: Concern Group for Protecting Kennedy Town, via Facebook.

On Thursday, the Town Planning Board rejected the proposal after reviewing the government’s application and public feedback in a closed-door meeting. A revised proposal will be produced in which the park remains as a zone designated for recreational use. If there are no objections to the revised plan the park will be safe.

Activist Cherry Wong of the Concern Group for Protecting Kennedy Town welcomed the decision, but expressed concern that the government may still try to demolish the park in the name of cleaning contaminated soil in the area – a reason cited by the Development Bureau in backing the plan.

“Though we welcome the decision, it is a pity the government insisted on pushing for the plan despite strong opposition from residents from a long time ago,” Wong told HKFP. “And it had to go all the way to the Town Planning Board – we are not pleased with the way the government handled the matter.”

She added that Thursday’s decision changed her impression that the Town Planning Board was a “rubber stamp” for the government.

An awareness-raising event at the Cadogan Street Temporary Garden. Photo: Concern Group for Protecting Kennedy Town, via Facebook.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ted Hui Chi-fung, who previously camped out in the park in protest at the plan, also welcomed the board’s decision. He urged the government to change the status of the temporary park to a permanent one.

“The garden is the only park in Kennedy Town whose lawns are not fenced off. It is a major recreational area for residents in the area. There are around 200 trees, including rare incense trees,” Hui said.

“The garden has been ‘temporary’ for almost 20 years. It is time to give Kennedy Town residents a permanent recreational space.”

The lawmaker added: “The authorities refused to listen to public opinion. The attempt to conceal the real intention of building luxury housing at the site has led to distrust between residents and the government. It is also unfair to the local community.”

Hui and activists have launched several petitions over the last two years. They also organised community events to raise awareness and rally support for their campaign.

Cadogan Street Temporary Garden
“Do not relocate or demolish the Cadogan Street Temporary Garden.” Photo: Concern Group for Protecting Kennedy Town, via Facebook.

The redevelopment of the park might take up to ten years, as the government had proposed a seven-year project to decontaminate the park and nearby areas. The work was deemed necessary because the park was located next to an incinerator and an abattoir, which were demolished between 2007 and 2009.

Critics argued that residents in the area would suffer from noise and air pollution, as well as the loss of a public recreational space for many years as a result.

The park site was home to the Kennedy Town Wholesale Market until the early 1990s and became a park at the turn of the millennium.

On Thursday, the Town Planning Board approved the government’s other requests, including rezoning two parcels of land on Sai Ning Street and Victoria Road into residential areas.

Ellie Ng has written for Foreign Policy, the Daily Telegraph, Global Voices Online and others.