Tai Hang high-rise saga back in court

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 July, 2011, 12:00am


A 10-year legal struggle over a plan for two high-rises in Tai Hang that has already been all the way to the Court of Final Appeal is back in court.

The Building Authority is asking the High Court to quash an appeal tribunal's decision to approve the development after the plan was referred back to it by the top court.

The tussle between the authority and developer China Field dates back to 2001, when the authority rejected the firm's plan to build two 39-storey blocks in Wang Fung Terrace, in an area where most of the buildings were on average only five floors high.

China Field then took the case to the Appeal Tribunal (Buildings) but lost appeal after appeal in the tribunal and the courts until the Court of Final Appeal overturned the tribunal's ruling and sent the case back to it. After a rehearing in April the tribunal ruled in favour of the developer.

In a writ filed on Thursday the Building Authority says the tribunal misinterpreted the top court's order.

According to the court document, the authority rejected China Field's building plans in 2001 on the ground that the height of the two proposed buildings was very different from those in the immediate neighbourhood and because construction of an access road for flat owners would be likely to cause a traffic hazard.

Ruling on China Field's first appeal, the tribunal upheld the authority's stance on traffic danger but ruled that the height difference basis was invalid as the authority had approved the development of a 16-storey building nearby.

In 2009, the Court of Final Appeal ruled that the tribunal had erred in taking the traffic danger into consideration, saying it was outside the scope of the law in question.

The Building Authority says the result of the rehearing is wrong because the tribunal erred in holding that the top court, when remitting the case to it, did not allow it to reconsider the height difference. It claims the tribunal acted irrationally in coming to the decision and that it failed to give adequate reasons.

Meanwhile, another developer has joined the flurry of legal actions over Town Planning Board height restrictions.

Lindenford is seeking leave to challenge the board's refusal to lift a proposed height restriction of 80 metres on Skyway House in Tai Kok Tsui. In a court document it accuses the board of acting beyond its power in refusing to relax the restriction, proposed in its draft Mong Kok outline zoning plan.

The developer says the board did not fully consider representations the company made in its objections to the height limits and failed to act independently because it copied largely from objection arguments submitted by the Planning Department.

The Real Estate Developers Association is already seeking permission to challenge the board's decision not to recommend relaxing restrictions in four areas. Several individual developers have also filed writs.


The number of districts in which tighter controls were introduced in 2008 to cut building heights and plot ratios to improve the environment