Warnings but little action on nature reserve house

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2011, 12:00am


The Buildings Department and the Lands Department both failed to stop construction of a luxury home and private garden inside the Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve, even though it took the developer almost a year to complete the work.

The Buildings Department inspected the site in January last year but it was not until August that it issued a letter to the company advising it to stop the work, according to correspondence between the firm and the government seen by the Post.

The department told the owner the director of lands had not granted an exemption for the three-storey house and retaining walls. Four months later it ordered the company to demolish the house within 90 days. The orders were registered on the land document for the site. The Lands Department inspected the site in September and asked the firm to remove all structures in 14 days.

The house still stands.

Democratic Party lawmaker Lee Wing-tat criticised the departments for delayed and ineffective enforcement, adding that the policy on illegal structures in the New Territories should be reviewed.

'Registering building orders has a little effect in stopping the owner in selling the property to a third party. But the owner can still enjoy his luxurious life in the unauthorised building if he keeps it for his own use.'

Charm Fair Limited, a company linked to 'King of Toys' Francis Choi Chee-ming, bought the agricultural site in Tsung Tsai Yuen in 2009. Work on the house began early last year. A house and storage shed, built with licences granted by the Lands Department that specified they could not be redeveloped without its permission, were demolished.

This is not the first time Choi has been involved in a row over an illegal structures. He was found to have illegally built a garage and bird cage on one of his luxury residences in Kau To Shan, Sha Tin, in 2002.