Mansion owner expected to reveal plans for government land, green belt within 2 weeks

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 December, 2007, 12:00am

The owner of the damaged King Yin Lei mansion is expected to reveal plans within two weeks to develop the adjoining government land and green belt, after a proposal to preserve the building and garden was deferred by the Town Planning Board yesterday.

The owner, who remains anonymous, applied on December 4 to change the Stubbs Road site and a piece of government land to the west - which is a green belt zone - for use in residential development with the historical building preserved.

The board suspended the application temporarily pending further information to be submitted by the owner. It will assess the application in three months after a complete application is made.

In a separate proposal, the Conservancy Association had suggested preserving the mansion and garden while allowing the remaining 8,000sq-ft land to be developed.

Association chairwoman Betty Ho Siu-fong said their idea would enable the owner to build a two- to three-storey building while causing minimal disturbance to the mansion.

In the meeting yesterday, board member Greg Wong Chak-yan said the only way to preserve the mansion in its original place was to declare it a monument because the board had no power to stop the owner from demolishing it.

'The board can only stop people from building a new development,' Mr Wong said. 'If you have the intention to protect the historical building, you should lobby for making it a monument.'

But Ms Ho said it was important for the board to decide on the planning intention of the site instead of waiting for the outcome of negotiations between the government and the owner.

'The Town Planning Board should take the lead in stating clearly what the planning intention is for the site,' she said.

'Very often, the declaration of a monument covers only the building itself, but not its surroundings, such as the garden. Since the board and the Planning Department have the power to state the planning intention, why shouldn't they exercise it?'

The Planning Department had previously advised the board to defer the case for a feasibility study on the restoration of King Yin Lei to be completed.

The mansion was deliberately damaged in September.

The government subsequently declared it a provisional monument to protect it from further damage. The order will last for 12 months.