Developer loses bid to overturn title policy

Court invites Henderson Land unit to launch new challenge to policy requiring full site ownership before filing development plans

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 03 August, 2013, 4:45am

A large property developer has failed in a bid to challenge the Building Authority's policy on so-called inflated buildings, which requires all developers who submit plans to the authority for approval to first prove their full ownership of the site.

Rembert Lai Siu-kin, an authorised person representing developer Supergoal Investment - a subsidiary of Henderson Land Development - launched an appeal after the authority rejected three plans for a project that he had submitted to it.

The government introduced the full site ownership policy several years ago in an effort to address the problem of inflated buildings, for which developers had been acquiring permissions before owning the entirety of the sites upon which they were to be built.

The Supergoal Investment project was a mixed commercial and residential development at Victory Avenue, in Kowloon.

Lai submitted the plans between October 2010 and February 2011.

During that time, Supergoal also submitted documents to show that it owned up to 85 per cent of the units, but did not have full ownership of the site.

The authority rejected all three plans, because it found that Supergoal had failed to meet the new requirement.

The developer argued that the requirement was not included in the Buildings Ordinance.

It said the authority had no power to reject plans based on the full site ownership policy, which came into effect in October 2010.

The Court of Appeal handed down its judgment yesterday. All three judges in the case found that the Building Authority had the right to apply the new policy to developers.

"The Building Authority was required to have regard to the location and physical characteristics of a site in order to classify it, and then to check a developer's calculations against the appropriate maximum permissible plot ratio and site coverage by reference to the site area," the judgment said.

It also stated that if the developer wished to continue to challenge the court's ruling, it should pursue the matter in the Court of Final Appeal.

The authority implemented the policy in October 2010, but did not require proof of full site ownership until April 1, 2011. Many developers submitted applications before the deadline, with 176 applications flooding in during in March 2011. But that number dropped to 13 the following month.

Many applications submitted in the six months leading up to the April 1 deadline for ownership proof were nevertheless rejected as they were found not to meet the ownership requirement.



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