The Urban Renewal Authority has been accused of threatening the independence of the Town Planning Board by seeking to take it to court over the truncated Staunton Street redevelopment. Owners of properties who want their buildings excluded from the scheme said yesterday the authority should follow established procedures for challenging the board's decisions instead of taking legal action. Their statement came a day after the authority's board agreed to seek a judicial review if the planning board removes the three tenement buildings in question from the already much-reduced scheme in Central. The newly renovated buildings were bought four years after the authority announced the redevelopment in 2003. Owners' spokesman Dare Koslow said the authority was threatening the board. 'When the board decides to change the zoning, the authority has a right to object to that zoning,' he said. 'Why can't the authority follow the usual legal process rather than threatening legal action before a final decision is made?' Koslow said the owners' plans to preserve the old tenements were a reasonable alternative to the authority's proposal for a 28-storey tower on the site. Central and Western Concern Group spokeswoman Katty Law Ngar-ling said the residents did not know the impact of the redevelopment until the authority released its master layout plan with design details. The board's decision on whether to remove the tenements from the redevelopment hinges on a yet-to-be-completed study by the Planning Department. Meanwhile, two blocks away in Staunton Street, a boutique hotel proposal by Sino Land has failed to win the blessing of the Planning Department. This is the second time the developer has come up with a proposal for the site, now occupied by two low-rise residential blocks more than 40 years old. Last year, the planning board rejected its proposal to build a 25-storey office block. In a paper advising the board, the department said the 33-storey hotel would be incompatible with the low-rise character of the neighbourhood. Approval of the hotel plan would 'set an undesirable precedent' for similar hotel developments in the area, and the cumulative impact would damage the area's amenity, the department said. Of 12 hotel applications in the Sheung Wan and Sai Ying Pun district in recent years, half were approved. The department also cited traffic concerns, saying the site was too small for transport facilities for a hotel with 144 guest rooms, and the carriageway and footpath at the front were too narrow. There was no waiting space and taxis, private cars, coaches or goods vehicles might have to wait on the street.