Chief Secretary for Administration, Secretary for Development, Secretary for the Environment, Secretary for Transport and Housing, Chairperson of the Hong Kong Tourism Board, Director of Planning Commissioner for Transport, Director of Fire Services, Director of Lands,
Dear Hikers and Friends,
We need your support for a petition to ensure that Lugard Road – which is where the world-famous Hong Kong Trail begins – continues to be a safe and tranquil trail frequented by people from all corners of the globe.
You may know that on 6 September 2013, Hong Kong’s Town Planning Board (TPB) gave its approval for what was a single family residence on Lugard Road to be converted into a ‘boutique hotel’.
In making this decision, the TPB ignored public concerns that a) the developer’s plans were flawed and should be rejected, and b) the hotel development would trigger increased vehicular traffic on this narrow walking trail, and so put at risk the safety of hundreds of ordinary Hong Kong people and tourists who walk on this section of the Hong Kong Trail. The trail was recently named as one of the top 10 urban hiking trails in the world by Lonely Planet!
The TPB also failed to consider the impact of a new and very large sewage septic tank and soakaway system that the hotel development would require, which would need to be situated just above the trail. A Jacuzzi being planned for the hotel would also discharge toxic effluent into the watercourse and streams in the Country Park that is below the trail. In addition, the TPB has failed to consider the impact on the landscape of the tree and vegetation clearance needed for slope works that will be needed as a consequence of the excavation of the new septic tank. (An 18-page submission by the Alliance for a Beautiful Hong Kong highlighting specific drawbacks and defects in the developer’s application was prevented from being considered.)
Some have argued that the conversion of the residence into a hotel would allow the preservation of this heritage property. We are all for the preservation of heritage, but we would like to point out that as it stands the developer plans to completely gut and renovate the inside of the building. In addition, the TPB has approved the construction of two new “egg” shaped structures on the site (sought by the developer to increase the gross floor area by 35%). As such, there will be little of heritage value left in the property.
We believe that the preservation of privately held heritage properties should not be at the expense of publicly held heritage spaces, such as the Hong Kong Trail and Hong Kong’s well-loved Country Parks.
The fourteen government departments tasked with reviewing the information and providing comments to the TPB also chose to ignore dangers posed by the project. The TPB’s decision puts the interests of the developer of the hotel project above those of the public.
This is not acceptable and we urge Hong Kong’s senior government officials to step in and stop this project now.