Hotel plan for home on Peak approved

Developer gets nod to turn century-old house into upscale accommodation even as district councillors prepare a motion of objection

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 07 September, 2013, 11:49am

The Town Planning Board has given the green light for the conversion of a 97-year-old residence on The Peak into a boutique hotel, despite strong opposition from the district council.

The board said the main reasons it approved the project yesterday were that the owner was taking the initiative to protect the historic residence at 27 Lugard Road, and that the developer had proposed ways of compensating for additional traffic on the narrow road, a popular hiking trail.

"It is clear that an owner could tear it down any time despite its proposed grade-two historic status," a board spokesman said. "Under existing policy, the city is relying heavily on owners' initiative to save heritage buildings."

The spokesman said traffic restrictions proposed by the developer would be written into the transport permit to be obtained by the hotel in the future.

"Members believed the future traffic would be more or less the same as the current situation."

The approval went ahead as members of the Central and Western District Council were preparing to move a motion objecting to the project next month. Fourteen councillors made a joint statement against the project last month, with more than 100 signatures collected from the public.

According to land and company documents, the four-storey residence was acquired by developer Crown Empire for HK$384 million in September last year. The company is held by British Virgin Island-registered Ashley Pacific, which also holds the Butterfly Hotel and Serviced Apartment Group.

The group is controlled by director Yau Tang-tit, brother of Chief Executive Office director Edward Yau Tang-wah.

Under the proposal, the house will be converted into a maximum 17 guest rooms, an exhibition space on the ground floor and five car park spaces.

To address concerns about traffic on the 1.8 metre-wide road, the developer proposed using small electric cars and tricycles to carry goods and passengers, with no more than two trips an hour on weekdays and non-public holidays.

On Saturdays, no passenger trips will be made between 11am to 1pm, and 2pm to 4pm. On Sundays, the restricted hours will stretch between 9am to 12pm and 1pm to 6pm. There will be no goods trips from 10am to 6pm on Sundays and public holidays.

District councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim disagreed that the traffic flow on the road - now used mainly by hikers and residents' vehicles - would be little changed, and criticised the board for favouring the developer. "The updated project details were only made available to the public a day before the meeting," he said.

The Planning Department said it had done its best to make public the paper and additional documents submitted by the developer as early as possible.

The developer is required by the board to submit a conservation-management plan before conversion, with quarterly tree-monitoring reports to the satisfaction of the Planning Department. It should also provide free monthly guided tours and prominently display an information panel for the building.