6,000 sign petition to stop hotel on Peak

Critics of developers' plan for historic mansion say it will ruin a tranquil area and endanger pedestrians on narrow Lugard Road

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 14 October, 2013, 11:06pm

More than 6,000 people have added their names in the last three days to a petition against the conversion of a 97-year-old mansion on The Peak to a hotel.

Concerns about heritage preservation and traffic safety have been building in the last few months over the boutique hotel project at 27 Lugard Road.

The outcome of the signature exercise spoke of the strength of opposition, despite approval by various government bodies, a petition organiser said.

"It is very encouraging that we have received 6,000 signatures in just three days," Central and Western district councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim, of the Liberal Party, said yesterday. "It shows that the people here support conserving the mansion."

Chan said he would pass the signatures to the Development Bureau.

Built in 1916, the four-storey mansion was bought by Crown Empire in September last year for HK$384 million.

The Antiquities Advisory Board granted the site grade-two historic status last month.

Crown Empire is seeking to turn the house into a 17-room boutique hotel with an exhibition space on the ground floor and parking space.

The project has received approval from the Town Planning Board and Transport Department. The bureau and the Antiquities and Monuments Office did not oppose it, as the owner promised to preserve the overall appearance of the building.

Lugard Road offers the only access to the mansion. It measures only 1.8 metres at its widest, and critics say the residents and hikers who are the road's main users will be endangered by additional traffic from the hotel.

"From May until now, district councillors have been telling the government about their opposition," Chan said. "Regrettably, the Town Planning Board has ignored the voice of the people."

He said the government could still block the development by denying the developer a licence to run it as a hotel.

The councillor's opposition came amid reassurances from the developer about road safety.

Crown Empire proposes using small electric cars and tricycles to transport goods and passengers to and from the planned hotel, with no more than two trips an hour on weekdays and non-public holidays.

Party chairwoman Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, who has been a Peak resident for more than a decade, said: "I am very concerned about such a tranquil place serving a commercial purpose."

Chan will lead a protest march from the junction of Lugard and Mount Austin roads to the mansion on Sunday.