Attempts by the Consumer Council to increase competition in the property market have been labelled interventionist by the companies it was designed to help - smaller property developers. The Consumer Council last week said the development market was 70 per cent controlled by seven developers. To help level the playing field, it suggested the Government offer favourable terms to new and smaller developers in bidding for government and government-subsidised housing projects. The proposal has been slated by the large developers that dominate the industry, but the negative reaction from small developers has surprised the council. The chairman of Cheung Wah Development Co, Lawrence Yu Kam-kee, said: 'We do not support the recommendation to give special treatment to us, as it is against the principle of fair competition adopted by the Government.' Cheung Wah's core business is household fabric and garment manufacturing, but it is also active in the property development market, with a large investment in an industrial building in Cheung Sha Wan Road. Eton Properties deputy general manager John Pang Kit-man said: 'We do not agree with the Consumer Council's recommendation to divide the playing field [into several segments] for different-sized developers.' Eton, privately owned by one of the richest Chinese in the Philippines, Lucio Tan, has an investment portfolio of 1.6 million square feet, valued at $15 billion. Mr Pang said smaller developers should find their own niche and added special treatment from the Government was unfair and against its free-market policy. 'Eton has established its reputation by building high-quality luxury properties in prime location,' Mr Pang said. It has also joined forces with other medium-sized property companies such as Hon Kowk Land Investment to compete with big developers for multi-billion dollar airport station property developments. Mr Pang said smaller developers should focus on urban redevelopment projects, where they faced less competition. Mr Yu of Cheung Wah said there were more effective ways for the Government to help small developers, such as speeding up processing of rezoning industrial areas for residential purposes. According to the Government, it has identified more than 100 hectares of surplus industrial land for housing and other uses by 2011. Mr Yu said many small property companies owned a large portfolio of industrial buildings in the territory. The rezoning could enhance the value of small developers' investment portfolios, he said.