Hysan Development Co. Ltd. (00014.HK) has won a Court of Final Appeal ruling against the Town Planning Board (TPB) over height limits in Wan Chai and Causeway Bay.
The court ruled that TPB should reconsider the restrictions, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
It said the board “should have put any potential violation of private interests” into consideration when seeking a balance among various social needs.
In 2010, TPB capped building heights in the two key districts at 130 meters in future developments, citing pedestrian overcrowding and the need for ventilation.
The height limits affected 10 Hysan properties including Hysan Place, Lee Gardens, Lee Gardens Two, Sunning Plaza and Sunning Court.
Hysan challenged the decision, claiming it infringed its property rights and was unconstitutional.
The Court of Appeal had ordered TPB in 2014 to reconsider the restrictions but upheld their constitutionality.
Hysan filed for a judicial review.
In Monday’s ruling Hong Kong’s highest court said TPB is empowered to impose building restrictions but these should not be intrusive.
It said private property rights are protected by the Basic Law, adding TPB should strive to balance public and private interests.
Nonetheless, the court said TPB’s decision “in general” is valid despite the judicial review.
It said TPB’s lawful decisions are “unlikely to be susceptible to constitutional review unless the incursions are exceptionally unreasonable”.
Hysan and TPB will share the cost of litigation.
Hysan welcomed the ruling and TPB said it will consult legal experts for their opinions.
Leung Chi-kin, chairman of the executive committee of the Real Estate Developers Association of Hong Kong, said what is protected by the Basic Law should be free from administrative interference.
Barrister legislator Alan Leong said it is good to see Hysan win but the victory does not mean TPB will annul its restrictions on buildings as it is hard to prove they are obviously unreasonable.
[Chinese version 中文版]
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