A long wait

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“How long do we have to wait? The government keeps giving us hope that it is going to happen,” said Ah Mei, an old woman in her seventies living with her husband in one of seven residential blocks in Bairro Iao Hon. What she longs for is the redevelopment of these buildings, which have been completed for nearly five decades, just like the government promises.
After more than a year of discussions, the Urban Renewal Committee – a government-appointed council established last year to advise the authorities on urban renewal policies – reached a preliminary consensus in March that the approval percentage of flat owners needed to redevelop a building could be lowered to facilitate the rejuvenation of old districts such as Iao Hon and some other areas on the Macau Peninsula.
Describing the preliminary consensus as “a breakthrough,” U Kin Cho, vice co-ordinator of a sub-body of the Committee, said in March that they had initially agreed the percentage approval required for buildings of 30-40 years of age would be cut to 90 per cent, while it would be lowered to 85 per cent for buildings aged 40 years or more. In the event of major public interest or the buildings being demolished, the approval ratio could be changed to as low as 80 per cent, he said. Under the present legal framework, any redevelopment of a building must get the approval of all owners of a building.
Acknowledging the importance of protecting residents’ right of private property, Lok Wai Tak, president of the Real Estate Development Chamber of Commerce, said the dilapidated state of some old buildings could affect the public interest. “Requiring approvals from all owners for reconstruction simply makes the process almost impossible,” said Lok, who also sits on the Urban Renewal Committee. “There is also a consensus in society that such a ratio should be lowered.”
The full story can be read in this month’s issue of Macau Business magazine, available at newsstands or online at www.magzter.com