Government should not be protecting greedy developers
You have revealed the tactics used by property developer New World Development to 'win approval for a building density that planners say should never have been allowed' for The Masterpiece in Tsim Sha Tsui. ('Tower project exploits loophole', February 17).
Bearing in mind the price per square foot for units in this building in Hanoi Road, it is obvious that the developer is pocketing many extra billions of dollars in revenue while the district suffers the consequences of overdevelopment through poor ventilation and chronic congestion on streets in the neighbourhood.
This revelation comes while we are still digesting the findings of green group Green Sense regarding the unnecessarily thick outer walls being built in residential towers.
These prefabricated external walls are exempted from the calculation of gross floor area but are included in the saleable area. Flat buyers have forked out millions of extra dollars through this trickery.
The original intention of exempting the prefabricated walls was to cut down on construction waste but, as ever, our canny developers always find a way to exploit good intentions.
The cases outlining exploitation of concessions for green features and open space are numerous and well documented.
So, with so much evidence that our property developers will not respect the intention of measures introduced to improve our living environment, one would hope that our government officials had learned a lesson. But this is Hong Kong, where common sense is always the victim of vested interests and powerful lobbies.
The Development Bureau is now intent on giving property developers another lucky packet through the proposed changes to the land resumption law.
By reducing the compulsory sales threshold on older buildings from 90 per cent to 80 per cent, the developers will be able to force property owners to sell their units at their offer price rather than for their true redevelopment value.
If this amendment goes through, as surely as night follows day, developers and their heavies will find ways to intimidate reluctant property owners to move out.
We will then have the usual hand-wringing from officials while they admit that the developers are acting within the regulations.
When will our government recognise that it is its duty to respect the interests of all citizens?
The administration should not put through legislation, which will certainly be supported by the functional constituencies, that encourages further exploitation of the public - who do not have the means to fund lengthy legal battles against unscrupulous developers.
Martin Brinkley, Ma Wan