Villagers claim upper hand in fight over road

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 March, 2009, 12:00am

The developer of Fairview Park in Yuen Long might have the right to restrict trucks using its private road but Tai Sang Wai villagers have the right to use Fairview Park Boulevard according to a land lease signed in 1973, a village representative and a lawyer said yesterday.

Village representative Fan Keung, who gave a copy of the lease - signed between the former owner of the road and the developer - to the South China Morning Post, said the developer had paid HK$275,000 to the land owner in return for use of the road.

'The developer needed to use the road for transporting materials to their construction sites to build the estate back in the '70s, and that was why the payment was settled,' Mr Fan said.

'While allowing the developer to use the road, the land lease also states that villagers, successors and occupiers are granted full right and liberty to use the road. So Fairview Park has no right to stop truck-driving villagers from using the road.'

Solicitor Wong Hok-ming said the villagers should have the right to use the road according to the lease, even though ownership of the boulevard has changed and is now in the hands of the developer.

'The lease does not state if the change of ownership will affect the villagers' right to use the road, but the villagers should be able to continue to enjoy this right,' Mr Wong said.

'They have to use the road in their daily activities, and that implies they should have the right to use the road even if there is a change of ownership.

'But it is arguable whether the Fairview Park developer has the right to restrict trucks using its private road, as the lease does not state all kinds of vehicles are allowed. The developer, after all, is the one who has to pay for the road maintenance.'

When asked about the land lease, Albert Lam Kwok-fai, general manager of Fairview Park Property Management said: 'According to the Land Registry, it is very clear that the Fairview Park developer is the owner of the private road.

'There is nothing wrong with exercising the developer's rights over the private road.'

On Sunday, the estate management set up gates to keep trucks off the private road. The new arrangement upset villagers in the area, who blocked the estate's entrances and exits the next day.

The estate management, village representatives and the government will meet this morning to discuss the matter.

San Tin rural committee chairman Man Fu-wan said truck drivers were willing to avoid the private road during peak hours, but the estate management had refused to stop using the gates.

'We've already backed down a bit, but they still insist on using the gates,' Mr Man said. 'The villagers might have to start another round of blockades.'