Citibank Plaza moves to restrict short cut to Garden Road

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 10 September, 2008, 12:00am

A public passageway which offered drivers a short cut between Cheung Kong Center and Garden Road in Central is being closed off once again - this time, legally, by the management of Citibank Plaza.

The passage passes through the plaza's private car park and the building's management have cited the terms of the land sale to restrict its use.

The passage, situated between the respective private areas of Citibank Plaza and Cheung Kong Center, is a privately managed public space. Cheung Kong blocked it with a drop bar two weeks ago sparking complaints from motorists and an uproar over access to public space. After a government request, the management company removed the bar the next day.

But the passage is being been blocked again. A drop bar has been placed and four signs inside the passageway read: 'Access restricted to occupiers and visitors of Cheung Kong Center'.

The drop bar prevents drivers, entering from Cheung Kong Center, from exiting to Garden Road through the bank's private car park. Drivers using the passage yesterday were handed a note by a security guard, with the same message and explaining that the area ahead was private. The guard allowed all cars to use the tunnel yesterday.

'But soon, non-visitors and non-occupiers cannot go through here any more,' the guard told the South China Morning Post.

Eagle Property Management, which manages Citibank Plaza, quoted the conditions of sale to justify its move. The clause states that the land purchaser shall permit the owner of the public Garden Road car park, which is Cheung Kong, the occupiers and their visitors, and the car park users to pass the tunnel.

The clause would mean the plaza's restrictions are legal, Town Planning Board member Ng Cho-nam said. 'But the scenario is illogical. The conditions were so poorly drafted by the government. How can a public passageway lead people to a dead end?' he said.

A Lands Department spokesman said that night that they understood - from the management of the two buildings - that motorists had not been denied access at present.