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City Weekend

No vacancy: Stanley residents oppose plans for hotel that could threaten town’s character

Approval for the ‘boutique’ accommodation could prompt other large-scale developments in the seaside area

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 September, 2016, 4:01pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 September, 2016, 4:29pm

Stanley residents are rallying against plans for a new hotel, saying the eight-storey building could make traffic congestion worse and even change the culture of the area.

If approved by the Town Planning Board, the proposed 30-room hotel will be built in the heart of the seaside town on Stanley Market Road towards Stanley Main Street.

Planning designs submitted by Toco Planning Consultants Limited on behalf of Rostar Company Limited, a subsidiary of Eton Properties, show a hotel with retail shops and cafes in the 538 square metre area.

When built, the applicant claimed the boutique hotel would meet Stanley’s “growing demand [for] hotel accommodation and shop and services”.

Toco also said in its application that the hotel developement was “in line” with the government’s policy to promote tourism in Hong Kong, and will “enhance Stanley as a popular sub-urban tourist town”.

Town Planning Board has to decide if they want to keep Stanley as it is, or if the whole area can be redeveloped, and decide what style redevelopment they want.
Paul Zimmerman

However, Maxine Yao Jie-ning, a member of the Stanley Residents Concern Group, has started rallying support against the proposed development, citing multiple concerns over a large, modern structure being built in the low-density town.

“It will be huge problem with Stanley traffic. There is a mini hotel in Stanley, and already the coaches parked there cause a lot of [traffic] problems,” she said.

“The second problem is the sewage [pipes]. Right now, especially when the tide comes, there’s a stinky smell [along] Stanley beaches. The sewage pipes have problems ... so if we [have] one more hotel, they will discharge more [waste] and then the smell will be more serious.”

She said other residents had expressed concerns over the hotel, coupled with the bars in the area, attracting seedy activities, such as prostitution.

Yao is currently organising residents who are opposed to the hotel construction to submit objections to the Town Planning Board before the end of the public consultation period on September 27.

Paul Zimmerman, CEO of urban planning NGO Designing Hong Kong, believed the hotel would set a dangerous precedent for similar structures, which could inevitably change the seaside town.

“It will forever change the character of the Stanley Market. That shopping district will slowly disappear,” he said.

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“[The hotel] will just be the start. Land owners from the surrounding areas will put in their applications in due course too.”

Zimmerman urged the Town Planning Board to think of the area in a holistic way, not one application at a time.

“Town Planning Board has to decide if they want to keep Stanley as it is, or if the whole area can be redeveloped, and decide what style redevelopment they want,” he said.

The site is currently occupied by ground floor shops, as part of the once popular Apple Mall, owned and operated by Eton Properties.

In a recent interview with Chinese media, Stanley and Shek O district councillor Chan Lee Pui-ying said the area needed a hotel because there were no others around the town.

However, Yao quickly contested the councillor’s reasoning, saying there are already two hotels in the area, including Stanley Oriental Hotel and a mini hotel on Tung Tau Wan Road, with a third being considered at the site of the Boathouse restaurant.

Chan did not respond to the Post’s request for comment.