• Fri
  • Sep 19, 2014
  • Updated: 9:54am
NewsHong Kong
DEVELOPMENT

Development minister proposes to ban all vehicles from road of Victoria Peak hotel

Amid the row over boutique hotel plan, development chief said to have told councillors that guests could go the 1 km uphill on foot

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 December, 2013, 12:14pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 December, 2013, 5:22am

The development chief has proposed to ban all vehicles from Lugard Road, the narrow Peak thoroughfare where plans to convert an historic mansion into a boutique hotel have provoked outrage from hikers and environmentalists.

Opponents of the hotel guardedly welcomed the idea put forward by Paul Chan Mo-po, secretary for development, but expressed doubts over whether the hotel would be viable if guests faced a one-kilometre walk to the reception desk.

Concerns were also raised that even with the vehicle restriction, the hotel project could lead to further development of the green area.

“If the hotel sends bellboys to carry all the luggage and have the guests walk for more than 10 minutes to get there so that there are no cars running on the trail, then I have no objection as a citizen,” former commerce minister Frederick Ma Si-hang said.

“It’s not a bad compromise, but will visitors choose that hotel? I don’t think so,” said Ma, a regular hiker on Lugard Road who has signed a petition against the project.

The neoclassical four-storey mansion built in 1916, which holds grade-two historic status, was acquired by developer Crown Empire last year ofr HK$384 million. The hotel plan was approved by the Town Planning Board despite a 96 per cent disapproval rating expressed during the public consultation process.

Under current plans the hotel will use small electric cars and tricycles to carry goods and passengers, running no more than two trips an hour. But traffic concerns remain as the road leading to the house is only about 1.8 metres wide and is popular with hikers.

Central and Western district councillor Joseph Chan Ho-lim said on Monday that the secretary for development raised the no-traffic idea at a meeting with Peak residents attended by him and legislator James Tien Pei-chun last month.

This would require guests to walk from the Peak Galleria – the nearest transport point to the mansion – and then walk uphill on a slope when approaching the site.

“The minister said that just like at the Tai O Heritage Hotel, travellers can walk there carrying their backpacks,” Joseph Chan said. “He promised to take the lead and liaise across departments under his bureau and the Transport and Housing Bureau to work out the solution.”

He said he was still waiting for further details to see whether the proposal would be viable but concerns remained over the environmental impact of a septic tank and jacuzzi planned as part of the project.

A spokeswoman for Paul Chan said he had exchanged views with the district councillor on the “zero traffic” idea but no details could be provided at this stage.

Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong chairwoman Vivian Leung Tai Yuet-kam, who has organised a petition against the hotel plan, said the “zero traffic” proposal would not be feasible for hotel guests. She said she was also worried that the hotel would just be the first step of further development.

“This neighbourhood has always been a residential area,” she said. “Once one hotel is built here they may build a restaurant there and something else there and the green space will become a commercial zone.”

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This article is now closed to comments

sammckhk
How can the Town Planning Board completely ignore the 96% disapproval during the consultation ? Obviously Edward Yau's brother carries more weight with the TPB.
Kubrick
I was told that the brother of someone senior in the CEs office is behind this project. Cannot our bold journalists establish if this is true or not. If it is true, then surely it should be in the open.
lucifer
Why are we letting a bunch of dummies ruin our home? At some point the people have to stand up to the instantly that plagues Hong Kong now.
HK-Lover
A ban on all vehicles which would include constructions, suppliers and hotel guests (in any kind of weather) will make the project unfeasible and almost impossible.
As we have learnt from the HKTV license case, our government is a very pragmatic and concerned government and consequently they will revoke the approval for the boutique hotels on the grounds of foreseeable economical failure in case the same government introduces the ban on all vehicles (without exceptions).
Btw - this ban generates new jobs because they would need kulis to carry luggages and supplies as well as rickshaw runners. That would give the boutique hotel an additional touch of colonial times 100 years ago.
sudo rm -f cy
Looking at the width of the road, even rickshaws would be a bit much. Sedan chairs, perhaps?
14u2nv
just astonishing that the Town Planning Board even approved this to begin with....someone up on high clearly calling in favours...
wwong888
where is the ICAC on this? drinking maotai with the PLA?
John Adams
At last some degree of commonsense is prevailing.
a TOTAL ban on ALL traffic (including building contractors and suppliers !) is indeed a big step forward. That's good news for everyone - except for the boutique hotel owners ha ! ha ! ( and regrettably the few local residents who have lived there quietly for many years)
.
But I agree with johnyuan : there are good grounds to believe there was massive collusion in the original TPB's decision.
As Howard Winn wrote in Laisee 2 months ago:
"The Town Planning Board......does not have a distinguished record and this is one of its crassest decisions"
BTW: It's not a 10 minute walk from the Peak Cafe. It's more like 20 minutes, especially on a blazing hot summer's day or pouring rain. Not the kind of journey for pampered "boutique hotel guests" after a 12-hour flight, the Airport Express and a taxi to the Peak.
hkpoia
Ummm, far be it from me - but FOUR storey ? or am I missing underground floors ?
johnyuan
First thing first. Development Secretary is jumping the gun. The Town Planning Board of its approval of the Peak site for commercial use should be investigated for possible collusion. The Secretary is accepting the ruling by making his no traffic proposal. Let the neighbors put an injunction for any work at the site and its surrounding while the public petitions for an investigation of the Board. The colonial style of the Planning Board must have a thorough revamp.The Board must know it is not above the law and the public and will its power with impunity.
 
 
 
 
 

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