Setback for Henderson over project in Western

Henderson Land's plans to redevelop a Sai Ying Pun site received a setback when a judicial review upheld the Buildings Department's rejection of the project because the site's ownership is unclear.

The Court of First Instance ruled yesterday that the developer must provide information related to the ownership before submitting building plans for approval.

'The process of approval of building plans is not intended to be a purely notional exercise,' Mr Justice Johnson Lam Man-hon said. 'All must be done by reference to the actual physical characteristic of the site, including ownership and control of the land in question. It is not the purpose of the scheme under the ordinance to waste public resources on a purely fictional exercise.'

The Building Authority, in a rare move, took the Buildings Appeal Tribunal to court early this year after the tribunal approved the project.

Lam quashed the tribunal's decision yesterday, saying: 'Suppose an applicant were to submit a building plan on the basis that the whole of Hong Kong Island is the site. Could the Building Authority challenge it on the basis that the applicant does not have any realistic prospect of control of the site and disapprove the plan accordingly?'