It's a nightmare, says factory boss caught in a web of red tape

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 13 October, 2009, 12:00am

A factory owner has complained about the difficulties of reusing his waterfront factory due to red tape and town planning procedures.

Eddie Li Sau-hung, managing director of Campell International, which owns the 13-storey Wing Shan Factory Building in Yau Tong Bay, said he hoped the chief executive's policy address would deliver measures to streamline the administrative process and provide more support to factory owners who want to convert their properties for business use.

Li, vice-president of the Chinese Manufacturers' Association of Hong Kong, said it took him almost five years to get government approval to convert the 40-year-old building, which is now half vacant, into an exhibition centre showcasing local-brand products. 'First you have to go to the Town Planning Board to apply for change of land use,' he said. 'You also need approval from the buildings, fire services and environmental protection departments.

'Altogether you need to deal with seven or even eight departments,' he said. When departments had different views about the proposals, the work became tougher and took even longer, he said.

Li sealed the deal earlier this year when he paid a premium of several hundred million dollars, but when he wanted to change his plan by adding a hotel to the building to provide accommodation for overseas businessmen, he met more obstacles.

The Town Planning Board would not consider his new proposal because his site was zoned into a 'comprehensive development area', with other sites nearby owned by other developers who plan to turn the area into a residential estate.

The board said Li should wait for the other developers to submit an integrated plan together. 'I don't know how long I need to wait,' he said. He has written to the Development Opportunities Office, under the Development Bureau, for advice.

A spokeswoman for the office said it would not comment on individual cases but would later report to the Legislative Council on the plans it supported for their economic and social benefit.