A group of Beijing homeowners, angry over the demolition of their historic homes and the level of compensation offered, packed into government offices yesterday, demanding a public hearing. About 50 people gathered at the State Land Bureau offices northeast of Tiananmen Square, confronting a lone secretary until guards started to push people away. A smaller group lingered in Nanheyan Street, near the Grand Hotel, making photocopies of news stories and home demolition regulations. They asked for a public hearing on compensation paid by developers to people forced to leave old homes, which are pulled down to make way for new apartments. The protesters came from different parts of central Beijing. They included a woman arguing that she and her adult son should receive separate compensation payouts, a man saying 4,000 yuan (HK$3,760) per square metre was too little compensation for his home, and Sha Yuguang, a Christian activist who has refused to leave his home although a building site is encroaching on three sides. 'They raise train tickets six yuan and have a public hearing, but this time, we get nothing,' said the woman advocating separate compensation for her son. Springtime demolition projects north and west of Beijing railway station have brought the urban demolition issue into the spotlight again. These projects follow last year's controversial demolition of courtyard homes at Xinjiekou, which some architectural enthusiasts saw as treasures. Most demolished areas will become high-rise commercial housing. Others said the compensation question was a human rights issue covering the right to negotiate the market value for demolished homes. Homeowners say they are never successful despite lawsuits. Most take the developers' compensation and borrow money to buy new homes outside the city centre, where they say land is worth about 10,000 yuan per square metre. Although the Land Bureau would not comment yesterday, the mounting protests have generated official explanations in Beijing newspapers.