Developer Sun Hung Kai Properties
Leading developer Sun Hung Kai Properties (0016) has been caught wrong-footed after a decision on its planning application for a prime site in North Point was deferred by the Town Planning Board last Friday.
This was despite the Planning Department endorsing the application in principle in its consideration paper on the application that was given to members of the Metro Planning Committee of the board for discussion.
Committee members were concerned about the “wall effect” generated by having closely packed residential blocks on the waterfront site.
As such, the committee decided to defer its decision to allow the developer to come up with a better layout.
Potentially adding to Sun Hung Kai’s risk is that construction work has already started on part of the site.
Piling equipment belonging to Gammon Construction was on site when Construction Post visited the area around the site last Friday.
The developer won a tender for the site in July last year with a bid of HK$6.91 billion.
The site forms part of the ex-North Point Estate which was previously the oldest public housing estate on Hong Kong Island.
According to its planning statement, it plans to build a mixed-use development with a gross floor area of 83,675 square metres (900,678 square feet).
On top of a three–storey basement would be ten residential blocks housing up to 710 units.
According to the consideration paper, Sun Hung Kai’s design ticked all the boxes with regard to complying with the endorsed planning brief for the site.
Government departments such as Buildings Department and Transport Department had no objections to the application.
In particular, on the visual and urban design aspects, Planning Department’s chief town planner said the developer’s design “could enhance the visual quality of the harbourfront” despite having a separation of only 5.2 metres at four residential blocks.
A former senior official at Lands Department said the early start of construction work on site was calculated risk-taking by Sun Hung Kai in the absence of town planning approval for the project.
“If they get it wrong and have to do these works again then that’s the risk they take. But if their assumptions are correct then they will have saved a bit of time whilst the planning issues are resolved,” the former official said.
“As we all know time is money, hence this approach and who can blame them as the planning issues take long and longer to resolve and end up stifling development.”