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HONG KONG-The Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors has set up a special task force to review the city’s existing urban renewal strategies. Aging buildings and urban decay have taken root as part of its evolution as a maturing developed city.

Hong Kong implemented an urban renewal strategy in 2001 as its first counter-measure to the problem. “Some quarters of our community are living or operating in rundown areas, which are in dire need of urban regeneration and environmental improvement,” Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s secretary for development, says in today’s press release about the RICS’ initiative.

The RICS task force will include professionals from surveying, construction, facilities management, planning and development, valuation and building control. The members are poised to start meeting with Hong Kong agencies to develop recommendations for the government to consider.

“The setup of this task force reflects RICS’ dedication to fully support the government in conducting the urban renewal strategy review in all stages,” a RICS spokesman says in the release. “Aging buildings in disrepair and inadequate urban planning is creating more problems than expected.” The release cited the Aug. 10 fire at Cornwall Court, killing four people and injuring 55 others. The fire began in a mezzanine-level nightclub and quickly engulfed the 15-story structure, built in 1962.

Lam says Hong Kong’s government has introduced policies and measures that address such issues as building maintenance and heritage conservation, which has risen to the forefront of public concerns. The review process, packaged into three stages, is projected to take two years to complete.

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