Mei Foo residents claim another court victory in battle over high-rise

PUBLISHED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 01 July, 2011, 12:00am


A developer who wants to build a controversial high-rise in Mei Foo Sun Chuen failed for a third time to get an interim injunction against protesters blocking a construction site.

Mei Foo residents, who object to the development, say they will lead the July 1 march today to celebrate their latest victory.

After the hearing yesterday, Yip Siu-chau, a defendant and a residents' leader, said: 'Our theme for the march is clear, 'Say no to property hegemony',' he said. About 50 people showed up in support of residents at the Court of Appeal hearing.

In court, Benjamin Yu SC, representing the developer, said the defendants - including five residents, a district councillor and three politicians - had no right to prevent the developer from using the only road that leads to the site.

But Chief Judge of the High Court Mr Justice Andrew Cheung Kui-nung said Billion Star Development failed to show it had clear, absolute ownership over the construction site. 'Even though the government has issued documents to say your project is legal, somebody has got legal aid and has an intention to dispute the legality. The government approval is one thing, whether you have the right [to build] is another,' he said. He said he would explain his reasons for the ruling later in writing.

The Court of First Instance had twice, in April and May, rejected the developer's application for an interim injunction. The appeal court yesterday refused to grant leave to appeal over the May decision.

Billion Star, which residents believe is backed by New World Development, has sought to end the protests that have halted work at the site since March, including a lie-down demonstration that drew 500 people.

Protesters say a proposed 20-storey block is illegal since it would use residual development rights from the neighbouring Mei Foo Phase 8.

The court will decide in December whether to grant the developer an injunction against the protesters, and whether to award HK$1.4 million it claims to have lost from delays in construction.