The pros and cons of preserving photogenic Wing Lee Street

The pros and cons of preserving photogenic Wing Lee Street

The government's reactionary plans for Wing Lee Street's redevelopment are met with equal delight and disappointment
wing lee street echoes of the rainbow
Since "Echoes of the Rainbow" won the Berlin Crystal Bear, photos of Wing Lee Street have proliferated on Flickr.

As far as u-turns go, this is a pretty big one. The Town Planning Board submitted a plan yesterday to preserve all of Wing Lee Street, the shooting location for the acclaimed film "Echoes of the Rainbow". Originally the plan was to preserve just three of the 12 tenements on the street.

The new plan proposed preserving the entire street "from head to toe." The decision on Wing Lee Street's fate will be revealed by the Board this Friday.

Conservationists are mad happy about the new proposal and hail it as a victory for the preservation of Hong Kong heritage. The creators of Berlinale winner "Echoes of the Rainbow," which was filmed on Wing Lee Street are also ecstatic about the possibility of keeping their location. But for some residents of the street, the new plan is a blow to their hopes for relocation and compensation.

If the new plan is adopted, authorities will stop acquisition of the 24 properties on Wing Lee Street. For those who want to sell their flats under the new plan, authorities will only buy according to the existing value of the flats, some nearly 60 years old.

Shum Sui-heung, who has lived on the street for 10 years, said to the SCMP: "I've been waiting for the government to buy out of my flat and relocate us to public housing for 10 years." But Shum's 92-year-old mother-in-law who has lived on the street for over four decades said she was connected to the neighborhood and doesn't want to move away.

According to Mingpao, the Town Planning Board met in March where it came to a near unanimous decision against preserving all of the tenement buildings on Wing Lee Street. The Board's non-executive director Wong Kwok Kin accused secretary for development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor of bowing down to "a little bit of noise" from the public and that this reactionary approach to redevelopment would set a bad precedent for future projects.

Last we visited, Wing Lee Street was a tiny run-down corner of Central taken over by amateur photographers. A browse through their Flickr pages shows how Wing Lee Street has already been immortalized in 2D. 

After traveling around the world on a fistful of dollars, Zoe returns to Hong Kong, where she grew up, to discover and write about all the inspiring stuff that happens here on a daily basis.

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