PROPERTY

Developer poses legal challenge to Building Authority

Long Winner Development calls for a judicial review of decisions made by Building Authority

PUBLISHED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 12 April, 2013, 4:29am

A developer linked to Henderson Land Development is seeking what it calls an "unprecedented" judicial review of decisions made by the Building Authority. Long Winner Development is seeking to challenge whether the authority has the power to revoke a permit that grants it extra building areas - valued at HK$150 million - at its site in Central.

The developer says the challenge has "far-reaching and drastic implications for property development" in the city.

The challenge concerns a site in Pottinger Street, where the developer intends to build a 31-storey building for commercial and residential use.

The dispute dates back to a 2007 agreement under which the authority granted the developer a bonus gross floor area of 976.4 square metres after the developer undertook to surrender land on the ground for a 4.5-metre wide walkway.

The walkway was then considered essential because pedestrian traffic was expected to increase significantly when the proposed Central station was built for the new Sha Tin-Central Link. But the railway station was later relocated to Admiralty.

When the developer submitted a building plan for approval, the authority rejected it on the grounds that the surrender of the land would not now be accepted by the government.

The developer then took the case to the appeal tribunal, which reversed the authority's decision.

As a result, the authority approved the plans in question, but went on to lodge a judicial review against the tribunal's decision.

Last year, the Court of First Instance dismissed the authority's challenge on the grounds that so long as the permit existed, the grant of extra building areas was effective.

In light of the judgment and after reviewing new submissions by the developer, the authority revoked the permit.

This led the developer to file the present application on the grounds that the authority abused its power in revoking the permit, misread the law and failed without reasonable excuse to comply with the tribunal's direction. It said the government had "no right" to unilaterally breach the agreement.