• Sat
  • Jul 12, 2014
  • Updated: 7:29am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 September, 2013, 12:13am

Planners hardly inspire confidence

Here's a political puzzle I don't have the answer to. People are mad at Leung Chun-ying, our chief executive. Many also object to a plan to convert a century-old heritage mansion into a boutique hotel. Now, why haven't they connected the dots?

The director of the company that owns the site and is behind the hotel plan is Yau Tang-tit, brother of Chief Executive Office director Edward Yau Tang-wah, who is also the former - and I may add, highly mediocre - environment bureau chief. That does not seem to have raised too many eyebrows. We are sure Leung and Yau never took a personal interest in the project. But given the membership of the Town Planning Board, the project has had a remarkably easy time getting approval this month. This is despite vocal objections from the Central and Western District Council and more than 150 objections raised with the board.

Let's see who sits on the board. The Permanent Secretary for Development is the chairman. Other government members include: the Director of Planning; Deputy Secretary Transport and Housing; Director of Home Affairs; Director of Environmental Protection, which is under the Environment Bureau; Director of Lands; and Deputy Director of Planning. These are backed by alternate members who are also senior government officials. The Chief Executive appointed most of the other non-government members.

Given their membership, it's little wonder they rarely cast a critical eye over most projects, however controversial. The surroundings near the house on Lugard Road have an open view of Victoria Harbour, so many visitors and hikers go there on weekends and holidays. The neighbours are worried that the narrow road would not be able to accommodate more traffic if the hotel is built.

The board has praised the owner for taking the initiative to protect the heritage mansion, which has grade-two historic status. After all, a board spokesman said, "An owner could tear it down any time." Well, how nice of them! Perhaps the developer should get an award, not just the green light.

The board is key to making our city world-class and liveable. But often its decisions do little to inspire confidence.

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This article is now closed to comments

John Adams
Mr Lo : Please let me be the first to fully endorse your excellent op-ed on this controversial subject.
Well spoken Sir !
.
It's a very silly subject : preserving an old house (exterior only), which house is invisible except to everyone unless they climb the opposite High West very steep hill, thus the aesthetic/ heritage value is nil, vs the interests of those many people, both rich and poor early morning walkers, who don't want to confront any more vehicles than necessary - electric or otherwise. Reasonable case : yes/ no?
Yes! Obvious decision against the developer.
.
So why has the TPB over-ridden the opinions of 151/158 submissions against the proposal unless it's yet another awful case of collusion between private interests and the government, all of which make us all sick to death..
.
This silly little case is evidence that the collusion has not stopped.
And indeed it will probably never stop.
.
Edward Lau deserves to be hung, drawn and quartered for his pathetic performance as effective - NON- Secretary of Environment under D. Tsang.
.
If now his brother gets away with this idiocy it proves that the rot has set in as much in HK as north of the border.
.
CY: If you and/or your staff read this - treat it as a test case of collusion vs commonsense and common interest .
chaz_hen
Why do the writers on these pages still evoke "world class" when referring to HK?
It's pretty obvious that has gone down the drain already and with the actions of greedy, corrupt government officials that seem to be more mainland in thinking and actions these days, the people of HK are doomed.

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