Developer seeks judicial review to loosen Mid-Levels restrictions

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 09 October, 2007, 12:00am

Swire Properties is seeking a judicial review to ease town planning restrictions to facilitate the building of a luxury residence in Mid-Levels.

It is the second judicial review launched by a Swire subsidiary, International Trader Limited (ITL), for a proposed residential tower of more than 50 storeys on Seymour Road and Castle Steps.

ITL had earlier launched a judicial review application against the Building Authority for blocking the development. Ms Justice Anselmo Reyes upheld the authority's decision in April of last year.

Yesterday, lawyer Benjamin Yu, representing ITL, argued for a separate judicial review of the Town Planning Appeal Board's dismissal last December of an appeal the company launched. It was against the Town Planning Board's refusal to relax the plot ratio and building height restrictions for the area.

Mr Yu contended before Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung, sitting in the Court of First Instance, that the appeal board's decision was unlawful because it wrongly took into account traffic and visual considerations, which were not relevant.

He told the court that in the first judicial review, ITL was seeking a relaxation of the plot ratio restriction and the height restrictions in the area.

Yet the board was of the view that such a relaxation could cause traffic congestion, the court heard.

The planned building at the junction of Seymour Road, Castle Road and Castle Steps would take up an area of 2,132 square metres.

Vehicular access was no different from the adjacent Robinson Place on Robinson Road, Mr Yu argued, but the zone where Robinson Place was located was free from such planning restrictions.

The court was told that part of the site was restricted to a plot ratio of five, or the existing plot ratio, whichever was greater. The maximum building height was 12 storeys, or the height of existing buildings, whichever was greater.

The hearing continues today.