Blunder let owners avoid building bridges

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 November, 1998, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 November, 1998, 12:00am

Inadequate legal documents had allowed building owners in Central to renege on agreements to construct five footbridges, the Director of Audit said.

The blunder also allowed the owners to add floor space in their buildings to the value of $709 million.

According to outline development plans, footbridges should have been built linking the China Building, Entertainment Building, Central Tower, Central Building, and Hing Wai Building.

The Goverment excluded more than 5,100 sq metres from gross floor-plan calculations in the China and Entertainment buildings and Central Tower to make space for bridges. This gave the owners a higher plot ratio, which meant they could build bigger blocks. The report said the exempted areas were worth $709 million.

However, none of the bridges had been built and some of the exempted areas in the China and Entertainment buildings had been converted to shops.

The Government could not charge the owners for the misuse and because of errors in the building deeds, officials also had no power to order the bridges built.

The Director of Audit said the Building Authority had not given a clear standard or basis for the granting of bonus or exempted areas.

It recommended the Government should give clear conditions in legal documents to ensure owners honoured obligations.

Officials should explore ways to build the bridges and conduct regular checks to prevent misuse of exempted areas. It said the Government should also consider the need to give outline development plans a statutory status.

Calls for footbridges in Central arose after an unmarked police car ploughed into lunchtime pedestrians in Wyndham Street in August last year, killing three people.