Development Bureau's statement on "The Pulse"

In response to media enquiries today (August 31) about a political party's suggestion that Government could give consent to the developer of "The Pulse" shopping centre in Repulse Bay to lease out the shops in parallel with the premium negotiation between the developer and the Lands Department, a spokesman for the Development Bureau said that such a proposal was not worthy of consideration.

"In replying to that political party, the Lands Department had already explained in detail that its suggestion is not viable and is not consistent with established practice," the spokesman said.

"We must point out that in this case, the concerned lot is the Remaining Portion of Rural Building Lot No. 368 ('the Lot'). The owner completed the above building on the Lot without Government's consent in breach of the lease conditions. Notwithstanding that the building plans for the redevelopment of the Lot were disapproved by Lands Department, the owner chose to build without Government's consent despite the Government's repeated warnings.

"The owner has initiated legal proceedings which was dismissed by the judgement of the Court of First Instance. The owner's solicitors have lodged a Notice of Appeal, but to-date they have not fixed a date for hearing the appeal.

"The case is concerned with a breach of lease condition and involved a sizable land premium for the grant of consent under the lease. Any suggestion to allow the developer to bring into operation the built premises, let alone to lease shops to third parties, will send a most undesirable message to lessees and has adverse implication on our land administration practice.

"Further, the interests of the tenants who would be subject to the tenancies to be created under the circumstances described in such suggestion would not be adequately safeguarded in view that the consent under the lease and land premium issues have not yet been concluded."

The spokesman added that the owner had without prejudice to its appeal with the court submitted to Lands Department its application for consent under the lease subject to payment of land premium and Lands Department had made a binding basic terms offer, including the premium amount, to the owner. As a matter of fact the owner has submitted a premium appeal submission to the Lands Department quite recently.

The spokesman said, "There is an established procedure for Lands Department to deal with an appeal against the land premium and the associated premium negotiations. The Lands Department does not see any reason not to apply the procedure to this case."

The spokesman noted that the Lands Department was acting in the capacity of a private landlord to process the owner's redevelopment on the Lot in accordance with the applicable procedures. It was the owner's responsibility to obtain consent under the lease before commencing its redevelopment.

Ends/Wednesday, August 31, 2011
Issued at HKT 20:30