Residents oppose Hopewell bid to rezone plaza for commercial use
Wan Chai residents say the government will make a big blunder if it allows the QRE Plaza site in Queen's Road East to be rezoned for commercial use.
The site is at present zoned open space, despite the fact that it includes restaurants, shops and a dancing school.
It is owned by Hopewell Holdings and was originally earmarked for office building development in 1981.
In 1994, it was rezoned for open-space land use by the Town Planning Board. But Hopewell recently asked the board to rezone the QRE Plaza site for commercial use.
Kennedy Road Protection Group, a group of concerned Wan Chai residents, claims that the 1994 rezoning was part of a land-exchange scheme between the government and Hopewell Holdings.
They say the developer at that time was seeking approval to build a 93-storey hotel skyscraper - Hopewell Mega Tower.
Last month, the government said in a Legislative Council meeting that an agreement had been reached with Hopewell Holdings to cut the height of the skyscraper by 38 floors to 55 storeys.
The residents say the government and Hopewell Holdings struck a deal in 1994 that allowed Hopewell to develop the 93-storey Mega Tower in exchange for the zoning of the QRE Plaza site as open space, and that is the way it should stay despite the cut in the size of the Mega Tower.
'The developer should not be allowed to develop both the Mega Tower and the QRE Plaza,' said Sally Ho Yuen-ping, spokeswoman for the resident group.
But Secretary for Development Carrie Lam Cheng Yuet-ngor said in Legco that the board had not included the QRE site in any deal relating to construction of the Mega Tower. 'Although the site was subsequently rezoned to open space, such rezoning does not affect the office development which had already been granted planning permission.'
That means, according to the government, Hopewell can still build an office tower on the QRE Plaza site.
Ms Ho accused the government of using the rezoning procedures to rationalise mistakes it had made by allowing businesses in an area zoned for open-space land use.
Legislator Tanya Chan, who has been helping the residents, urged the board to reject the latest rezoning request from Hopewell.
Conservationist Katty Law Ngar-ning said she would file a request to the Ombudsman for a review of the Development Bureau's handling of the zoning issue.