Hong Kong’s green belt swap for Peak bungalow on 23 Coombe Road beggars belief
The extraordinary decision by the Hong Kong Executive Council to approve a Cheung Kong subsidiary firm’s demand to exchange 23 Coombe Road, a dilapidated bungalow in a dark, cramped site, for a massive concrete platform in our green belt with spectacular billionaire views over country park and open seas, is yet another example of the charade of our land policy.
The sorry saga started in 2010 when the Antiquities Advisory Board upgraded this unknown, nondescript property – purchased by Juli May, a Cheung Kong Group subsidiary, for HK$27.5 million in 1993 – from nothing to provisional Grade 3 and then to Grade 1, setting in place a highly convenient series of steps, with minimal transparency.
The cavalier disregard earlier of the Town Planning Board for some 3,000 petitioners, community groups and several government department arguments objecting to this crude land grab simply beggars belief. Valid concerns ranging from proximity to the much-used entrance to Aberdeen Country Park to damage to one of the largest black kite roosts in East Asia and our endangered Artocarpus trees were rejected without comment.
The logical solution of building this single property in the bungalow’s own grounds was simply ignored.
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Surely Hong Kong has progressed beyond such cosy collusion between government and the influential, especially in such a sensitive public amenity enjoyed by so many.
Juli May should withdraw its shameful application, build its large house in the bungalow grounds and avoid many more years of public resistance and embarrassment.
Richard Winter, Coombe Road