• Wed
  • Oct 1, 2014
  • Updated: 9:17am
Lai See
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 10 October, 2013, 11:49am

Do you prefer a car park in Stanley or a car park in Stanley?

BIO

Howard Winn has been with the South China Morning Post for two and half years after previous stints as business editor and deputy editor of The Standard, and business editor of Asia Times. His writing has also been published in the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Wall Street Journal, and the International Herald Tribune. He writes the Lai See column which focuses on the lighter side of business.
 

The controversial proposal by Southern District Council to build a multi-storey car park in Stanley has taken an interesting twist recently. District councillor Chan Lee Pui-ying has sensibly prepared a questionnaire to assess how local residents feel about this project. So far so good. However, it is no secret that the project has aroused considerable opposition in Stanley among residents who say that while traffic is bad at weekends for several months of the year, there are plenty of available car parking spaces during the week. And although there are a considerable number of expatriates resident in Stanley who speak English and French, Chan's questionnaire was only written in Chinese.

When it was translated people were somewhat surprised and annoyed. The questionnaire explains that she is seeking residents' views on the proposed car park.

The first question is: "Do you agree development should occur underneath the Stanley bus terminal rather than above ground?" Respondents were invited to tick one of two boxes to indicate if they agreed or disagreed. The second question was: "Do you agree with the project design?" There was then a space for other views. It does not take a statistical maestro to see that the conclusion of this "survey" will be that most people are in favour of a new car park whether it is above or below the ground. The missing question of course is: "Do you think there is a need for a car park?"

Another survey has now been suggested by an irritated Stanley resident, asking: "Do you think Mrs Chan Lee Pui-ying should resign as soon as possible as opposed to resigning immediately?"

 

Effluent Hotel on the Peak

Our piece on the plan for a boutique hotel at 27 Lugard Road has attracted some attention and it is such an absurd decision that it is worth dwelling on it further. The Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong (ABHK) has done sterling work on this, though it has so far proved to be in vain.

In its recent defence of its decision the Town Planning Board said: "After considering all relevant planning factors, including planning intention, land use compatibility as well as the environmental, landscape, traffic and infrastructural impacts from the proposed development, comments from relevant bureaux and public comments received, the Committee decided to approve the application."

Despite this apparent no-stone-unturned exercise in due diligence, how is it, we wonder, that it has expressed no concern over the need for a new septic tank to service the 42 guests and 10 staff? ABHK says this will require digging 2.15 metres into a steep rocky government-maintained slope where a landslide occurred in 2005. The new septic tank will also include a soakaway system allowing 20,000 litres of effluent a day to seep into the surrounding area.

This means, says ABHK, that "Lugard Road and the Country Park below the property, become a key part of the leeching field for hotel sewage in violation of EPD standards". The document goes on to say that the government departments responsible for assessing the application "have not considered the environmental impacts nor the slope stability issues posed by the excavation required to build the new septic tank". So much for "examining all the relevant factors".

Readers have commented: "Watch the Highways Department deal with the Peak hotel mess by widening Lugard Road to a two-lane street!" This of course adds to the appeal of the project in that it requires millions of dollars, and it would involve rebuilding the road and reinforcing the slope, requiring lots of concrete-pouring. In Hong Kong terms this is a win-win situation.

 

Hedgies looking good

Investors in the Asia-Pacific region appear to be keeping the faith with hedge funds according to Hedgeweek, citing research by Preqin. Some 41 per cent of investors will be looking to increase their allocation to hedge funds over the next 12 months, Preqin says. A further 45 per cent say they plan on maintaining their current allocations while 14 per cent are looking to reduce their allocation.

In a further boost for the industry, which has weathered some difficult years, 43 per cent believed they had delivered on performance, while 38 per cent felt they had over-delivered.

 

Have you got any stories that Lai See should know about? E-mail them to howard.winn@scmp.com

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