ENVIRONMENT

Dismay as planners wave through hotel plan for Victoria Peak

PUBLISHED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 06 September, 2013, 6:32am

Despite opposition from residents and 14 district councillors, the Planning Department says it has no objection to a developer's plan to transform a 97-year-old house on The Peak into a hotel.

The department's stand is expected to have some influence on the Town Planning Board committee which will decide today whether it should allow the conversion of the house on Lugard Road into a heritage hotel.

According to the application, developer Crown Empire would like to transform the four-storey house into a hotel with 13 rooms. It also wants to build two new three-storey villas beside the existing house to provide an additional four rooms.

The plan has drawn opposition from residents concerned about the development's impact on the environment.

They say narrow Lugard Road is off public transport routes and used mainly by residents and hikers, and that additional traffic generated by the hotel would pose a danger to pedestrians.

In a paper prepared for the Town Planning Board, the department noted that the developer had proposed using electric mini cars to service the hotel. There would be restrictions on the number of passenger trips during most of the daytime on Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays, and a maximum of two trips per hour on other days.

Government departments consulted have said the actual number of trips would be relatively small, although it was inevitable that vehicles would have to share space with walkers on the narrow road.

Apart from traffic arrangements, the department said approval conditions should be imposed on the plan, including the submission of a conservation management plan and provision of free monthly guided tours to show the house to the public.

Tree preservation and quarterly monitoring reports should be submitted by the developer, it suggested.

Dr Joseph Yao Ki-fu, who used to live in the house said: "It's unfortunate. The whole thing doesn't make sense."

He lived in the house for 12 years and opposes the conversion. He said it was impossible to drive a car at weekends due to large crowds of hikers and participants in walkathons, of which there were about 70 a year.

Central and Western District councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim of the Liberal Party said a hotel would put 80 to 100 more cars on the road every day, and that it was not built for heavy traffic.