HOUSING

Few villagers heed orders to tear down illegal structures

130 demolition orders were handed out in the New Territories - but very few have complied

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 June, 2013, 7:16am

Only a handful of New Territories villagers have complied with demolition orders for illegal structures - despite 130 such orders being issued in a crackdown on unauthorised building work that began last year.

The Development Bureau revealed the information in a written reply to a question raised by Civic Party legislator Ronny Tong Ka-wah, who was following up on the crackdown and the illegal extension found in the chief executive's house on The Peak last year.

The Buildings Department in June last year began the New Territories-wide crackdown on unauthorised additions to homes that could take as long as 10 years.

It also set up a reporting scheme to allow villagers to register structures that they deemed illegal but not dangerous, which they will be allowed to keep - subject to five-yearly checks.

It is not known how many village homes have illegal additions.

The bureau said that a total of 4,700 houses were inspected in 17 villages by May this year. Of those, 130 demolition orders were issued for dangerous structures covering four-storey houses and those on rooftops that are over half a storey.

But only four of the orders have been complied with, the bureau said. It plans to prosecute the owners of 40 homes that have received demolition orders if they do not comply by the deadline, which varies for each case.

The department is now carrying out another round of inspections, this time covering 4,800 houses in 35 villages.

The bureau also said that a total of 18,000 homeowners had registered illegal add-ons under its reporting scheme - including enclosed balconies and roofs, and ground floor structures.

The bureau in the same reply said that the department had accepted Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying's proposal to fill the 320 sq ft illegal extension found at his house on Peel Rise at The Peak. That approval was given on May 30 - the same day Secretary for Development Paul Chan Mo-po criticised as too long the six months given to Leung to rectify the illegal structure.

The chief executive's office said last night that Leung had already begun filling the space.

Lawmaker Tong said the Leung case set a bad example for villagers. "If the chief executive is given six months just to come up with a proposal to rectify his illegal space, how can we then expect villagers to comply with demolition orders so fast?"

He said the protracted approval process for Leung breached the bureau's practice of giving priority to cases involving public figures.

But the bureau said it did not give any preferential treatment to Leung. Under the regulation, an owner can rectify an illegal structure once their proposal is approved by the department.