Mega Tower stumbles at Legco hurdle

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 February, 2005, 12:00am

Sir Gordon Wu Ying-sheung has failed to convince legislators that his plan to build Hong Kong's biggest hotel will not damage the public interest.

Their concerns are expressed in a draft submission on the Mega Tower project, in Wan Chai, which will be discussed by Town Planning Board members on Friday.

It is a setback for the Hopewell chairman's efforts to secure approval for the $4.5 billion project.

In recent months, the infrastructure tycoon has cleared a number of hurdles in the way of his plan to build two 58-storey hotel towers.

But the legislators' submission questions the Transport Department's assessment of the likely impact on traffic, urges the preservation of trees that would be cut down under present plans, and calls for the government land that forms half the site to be auctioned.

While Hopewell has put forward proposals to ease traffic congestion in the area, the legislators say: 'It remains unclear if the proposals can be implemented.' They also cast doubt on the feasibility of a plan to build footbridges linking Queen's Road East and Spring Garden Lane. The new hotel would be bordered by Kennedy Road and Queen's Road East.

The legislators said auctioning the government land involved would generate maximum revenue for the treasury. The hotel plan relies on the government selling its land to the developer.

Legislators discussed the Mega Tower plan at two conferences and four internal meetings, after receiving complaints from nearby residents who would be affected by the development. The objections were mainly about the hotel's impact on local traffic, the loss of the existing greenbelt and obscured public views.

The meetings were chaired by Democrat Sin Chung-kai.

Nine legislators joined the discussions, including independent Albert Cheng King-hon and Patrick Lau Sau-shing, Choy So-yuk of the DAB and Article 45 Concern Group's Audrey Eu Yuet-mee and Alan Leong Kah-kit.

The Town Planning Board postponed a meeting on the project to Friday, to await the legislators' views.

Even though the board rejected the proposal last summer, it changed tack after Sir Gordon made some changes to his plans and threatened court action.

In previous discussions, the board accepted the claim that the new hotel would not worsen road congestion to an unacceptable degree.

It rejected a bid by a residents' group to block the development.

It also dismissed a green group's call for the government land to be turned into a green belt.

The tycoon has the legal right to build a single, 93-storey hotel tower at the site: that plan received the board's approval in 1994.