Lugard Road gives us spectacular views, a waterfall, relatively cleaner air, is easily accessible and goes round in a loop, ideal for walking and running. A short hike up is High West, offering fantastic south-side views.
At 7.30am one weekday, I counted 93 people on the road - walkers, runners and elderly people doing morning exercises. The majority are locals who walk up from Aberdeen or Mid-Levels. Later more will come, added by children on school trips and tourists enjoying the views and a pleasant walk in our busy city. Crowds arrive at weekends and it will be teeming with families and charity walkers.
Though the few residents are considerate drivers, I have witnessed angry scenes with cars being pounded on while navigating through the narrow road.
Yet, despite numerous objections, the government approved the conversion of 27 Lugard Road into a hotel with heritage conservation given as the reason for approval. Assuming the mansion is of such high historical value for the government to ignore all objections, surely there are other ways, for example, upgrading its heritage status.
Should our officials not work harder in changing current policies instead of allowing a project to disrupt the enjoyment of so many?
Restrictions are placed on future traffic, but that road section can barely accommodate a small vehicle and is on a slope with numerous bends, making it extremely difficult to anticipate an approaching vehicle. The Town Planning Board's comment that traffic caused by the hotel will not be much different to that caused by a single residence is far-fetched.
Due to its difficult vehicular access, Lugard Road properties are difficult to sell or lease as evidenced by the vacant houses and long-standing "for sale" signs. For a hotel group to make such a significant purchase, one marvels at its confidence in securing the conversion approval.
The group, controlled by a brother of the director of the chief executive's office, also appears to be well-prepared as immediately after the approval, work started on site. The big metal gate disappeared after a weekend with other works clearly visible. Barbed wire, construction debris, plastic bottles and lunch boxes were scattered around or left by the roadside. The group's ability to mobilise a construction crew so quickly is amazing and I wonder how and when construction material is transported.
Finally, there is the question of precedent. What is the government's position on other "historical-looking" mansions on Lugard Road?
Kelly Lam, CentralMore on this: