Court rejects Aetas Hotel demolition appeal

An aerial view shows the Aetas Hotel and Residence in Soi Ruamrudee 2. (Post Today photo)

The Supreme Administrative Court on Saturday threw out a petition by owners of the Aetas Hotel and Residence facing demolition in Bangkok’s Pathumwan district, saying the case did not involve an administrative order.

In their petition, the Tabtimtorn and Lapprathan companies which own the 18-storey and 24-storey buildings in Soi Ruamrudee 2, challenged the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) and its officials over preparations for the demolition which have been delayed for almost four years.

Named in the petition were the director of Pathumwan district office, the Bangkok governor, and City Hall’s appeal review committee who refused to hear the firms’ appeal against the preparations.

In October 2014, the Supreme Administrative Court ordered City Hall to knock down the two buildings within 60 days after finding they violated a city construction ordinance which requires the size and height of buildings to correspond with the width of the road outside.

It was not until early this year that City Hall took action to enforce the demolition order, including erecting signs which announced that the use of buildings was prohibited pending the demolition.

According to City Hall, violating the ban incurs daily penalties of 30,000 baht. The offence is also punishable by a six-month jail term and a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

The building owners challenged City Hall by asking the Central Administrative Court to intervene. The court rejected and the firms appealed the decision to the Supreme Administrative Court.

The court agreed with the lower court’s decision because the petition did not involve a dispute over City Hall’s administrative order. In dismissing the firms’ petition, the Supreme Administrative Court said City Hall’s action was an enforcement of the 2014 demolition order issued by the court.

In March of this year, City Hall announced terms of reference on its website for hiring a contractor to demolish the building with the estimated cost of the demolition at 200 million baht.

City Hall would cover the expense and reclaim it from the property owners later, and the former Bangkok governor said he expected the project developers to sue the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration as soon as demolition work was under way.

The case dates back to 2008, when 24 residents lodged a complaint with the Administrative Court, accusing former Pathumwan district chief Surakiat Limcharoen and former Bangkok governor Apirak Kosayodhin of negligence of duty in approving the project, given that Soi Ruam Rudi is too narrow to accommodate such tall buildings. The residents said the building is harmful to the environment and causes dangerous traffic congestion.

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