Hysan loses bid to relax building limits in cases against town planners

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 15 September, 2012, 3:16am

Developer Hysan group yesterday lost two judicial challenges against the Town Planning Board's refusal to relax building restrictions on the group's 10 sites in Causeway Bay and Wan Chai.

Hysan won only one point among the series of restrictions imposed by the board.

In a combined judgment on two judicial reviews, the Court of First Instance quashed the requirement for a five-metre non-building area on the newly opened Hysan Place under the draft Causeway Bay outline zoning plan.

Hysan lost all other challenges on building height limits, setback requirements and non-building areas imposed on its 10 sites. under the draft Causeway Bay and Wan Chai plan.

Outside court yesterday, lawyers for Hysan said it intended to appeal, but would first need to study the judgment.

The two judicial reviews stemmed from Hysan's argument that the building restrictions would stifle its freedom to design its buildings. The restrictions are to ensure good ventilation and adequate width for pedestrian walkways.

At question is the redevelopment potential of the 10 buildings - Hysan Place, Lee Gardens, Lee Gardens Two, Sunning Plaza, Sunning Court, One Hysan Avenue, 18 Hysan Avenue, 111 Leighton Road, Leighton Centre A and Lee Theatre Plaza.

Mr Justice Anselmo Reyes wrote: "[The] mere fact that zoning restrictions imposed in the public interest will lead to a diminution of property values will not … amount to an unlawful deprivation of property contrary to the Basic Law."

The judge quashed the non-building area restriction - which means there should be no building above ground level - on Hysan Place because it was imposed without sufficient reasoning.

He also ruled that there was no guarantee a developer would be able to achieve both the maximum permissible site coverage and the maximum plot ratio, rejecting the group's challenge.

The board was awarded costs in the judicial review relating to the Wan Chai plan and 95 per cent of the costs in relation to the Causeway Bay plan.