Ruling on car park issue reserved

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 November, 2011, 12:00am


The High Court yesterday reserved ruling on whether the Town Planning Board had erred when it prevented a Hutchison Whampoa subsidiary from converting part of an underused car park at the Cheung Kong Center into a supermarket.

Turbo Top, the registered owner of the land at the junction of Queen's Road Central and Garden Road, accused the board of misusing its power by rejecting its application to convert 78 parking spaces into a retail shop and for saying that all 800 public car spaces had to remain intact.

The firm said its application was treated in an 'unfair, illogical and discriminatory' manner.

Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes, of the Court of First Instance, said he would hand down a written judgment at a later time. Johnny Mok Shiu-leun SC, the board's lawyer, said the parking spaces were 'public assets' that the board should not easily give away to a developer. To discharge its public role as a town planner, the board had the power to insist the public facility be maintained, Mok said.

He said the requirement to keep the parking spaces at 800 was legitimate because the board simply asked the firm not to change the status quo, without imposing an additional requirement on it.

Mok said if Turbo Top wanted to convert the 78 car spaces into a supermarket, it must supply the same number of spaces elsewhere.

Benjamin Yu SC, for Turbo Top, earlier accused the board of 'micromanaging' the development and planning of a 'specific building'. Under Town Planning Ordinance, the board was only empowered to adopt a 'broad-brush' approach toward planning and development, Yu said.

Yu said his client was treated unfairly because the nearby International Finance Centre had fewer restrictions. However, Reyes said he would not make a comparison between both buildings when making his decision. Citing legal authority, Yu argued that, when private property is involved, the court should rule against the government and in favour of the owner.