Resident asks for review of Mei Foo plan
A Mei Foo resident is pursuing a judicial review in an effort to overturn a decision to approve a developer's plans for a 20-storey building on her estate.
Lawyers for Ho Mei-ling, who lives at Mei Foo Sun Chuen Stage 8, argued in the Court of First Instance yesterday that the Building Authority's decision last October was wrong because it misinterpreted the law when calculating the plot ratio and site coverage of the lot carved out of the original site.
They are seeking permission to launch a judicial review. The application follows protests by residents against the Billion Star development.
Denis Chang SC, for Ho, said that as the carved-off land was part of the lots where 10 residential buildings were erected, the authority needed residents' consent. He also argued the potential to develop the lot had been used up during the first development. 'You can't carve a piece of land from the entire site as if it is independent land,' Chang said.
In any case, said Chang, the authority should have only approved plot ratio and site coverage left over after the first development, and in proportion to the size between the carved-up lot and the entire land.
According to court documents, the lot amounts to about 8 per cent of the whole of the Mei Foo land, which Billion Star bought for about US$15 million in 2009.
Chang said the authority had also failed to take into consideration third-party rights, such as right of way.
Lawyers for the Building Authority and the developer said the public body was only under a statutory duty to calculate the plot ratio in accordance with the law, and was not concerned with ownership of the land.
Godfrey Lam, for the authority, said that in approving building plans, the authority was required by law to identify the land and the class of land, calculate the maximum permissible plot ratio and to make sure that the developer did not make use of any legal loopholes to 'double-count' plot ratio.
Lam said Ho had been late in filing the judicial review application and asked the court not to grant her an extension. He said Ho had obtained sufficient information to make an application as early as October last year but she failed to act within the three-month limit after the decision.
When asked about the possibility of negotiations, Lam said: 'That is not going to be fruitful because it is unrealistic to expect the developer, who paid HK$100 million for the land, to leave it as a vacant site.'
Benjamin Yu, for Billion Star, argued that Ho's lawyer's proposition that no development could be done unless the developer entered into an agreement with the existing owners was not backed by any precedents.
When asked by the judge whether there was any urgency for the developer to continue with construction, Yu said: 'The earlier, the better.'
Yu will continue his submission before Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon today.