Mansion owner to face land premium in swap

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 23 February, 2008, 12:00am

The owner of the King Yin Lei mansion will be asked to pay a land premium for a proposed land swap in which an adjacent green-belt site will be traded for the mansion, Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said.

But an experienced surveyor criticised the move, calling it unfair to the mansion owner since the land given in compensation would require time and money for further site formation work.

After an initial assessment conducted by the administration, Mrs Lam told a Legislative Council panel yesterday that the owner would be required to pay a premium for the land involved in the proposed swap. She did not give the amount to be paid.

Surveyor Pang Shiu-kee said it would be acceptable if the land given in compensation - an artificial slope to the west of the mansion - had a higher market value than the King Yin Lei mansion, but no more than 10 per cent higher. 'Despite the higher land value of the artificial slope, it is expected that the mansion owner will have to pay more time and money for site formation work.'

Mr Pang added that the land, which is regarded as a virgin plot, might involve further costs for a drainage system and to stabilise the sloping land. So it would be unfair for the premium to be charged, he said.

Frontier legislator Emily Lau Wai-hing pressed the government to explain why the owner would be asked to pay a land premium if the two properties were equal in size.

Mrs Lam said a difference was to be expected in the land values of the two sites. The difference was based on professional opinion from the Lands Department. The new development would not disturb the visual and natural environment or traffic in the area, she said.

Legislators also raised concerns about the fate of the Central School site in Hollywood Road. The Civic Party's Fernando Cheung Chiu-hung asked if the government had any plans after it had been off the for-sale list for a year.

Mrs Lam declined to say whether the site would be removed from this year's for-sale list.

The chief executive said last year that the site would be removed from the for-sale list for one year, and proposals would be invited for its revitalisation.