Tangled trouble in Paradise

PHUKET TOWN: Thirty owners of businesses in the market area of Patong’s Paradise Complex descended on the Consumer Protection Office at the Provincial Hall on Monday morning to protest construction by the Royal Paradise Hotel, which they say has blocked access to their shops with thigh-high walls made of concrete blocks. The protest is the latest turn in a tale that has as many twists as a pretzel. The protest leader, Dr Sakda Ruamrungsee of the Andaman Medical Center, told the Gazette that the area in front of the shops used to be a pedestrian area. “Now, the complex’s owner is building on it, which is blocking shop entrances,” he said. “On September 14, we handed the Governor a petition asking him to investigate the construction going on in the complex. Four weeks later, the Governor suspended the construction after finding out that Patong Municipality had not issued a building permit for the project. Construction was banned pending Patong Municipality approving the project,” he explained. “We asked for further action since Patong Municipality has not enforced the Governor’s order; and building [in the complex] continued over the weekend,” said Dr Sakda. Suwat Boonchanawiwat, Chief of the Construction Section of Patong Municipality, denied that the municipality had failed to take action. “We received a complaint on September 14,” he said, “and informed the Paradise Complex they must stop building. When we went to check, there was no construction going on.” However, Dr Jirachai Amornpyroj, GM of Royal Paradise Hotel in Patong, which owns the land on which the Paradise Complex is built, told the Gazette yesterday that his company had not been ordered to stop building. “We have already applied to Patong Municipality for a building permit, which is currently being considered, and we have not been ordered to stop building. “We continued construction while waiting for the permit, which we believe will be approved soon, because we didn’t want to waste time.” Now, however, he said, “We have stopped any further construction until we receive the building permit.” He explained, “About two years ago, the area used to be full of bar beers, but they’re not there anymore. The hotel recently received complaints from guests that the area looked dangerous at night. So we decided to convert it into a food court and night plaza.” He agreed that the business owners might have suffered from the construction, but pointed out, “The purchase contract for each of their buildings says that the buyer owns 12 square wah (48 square meters) of land [and that] the owners of businesses in the complex have rights only to the interiors of their buildings.” But, he explained, “Some have built awnings that extend into the area [outside their shops], or put cooking equipment or tables and chairs there. They don’t have any rights under the awnings extending out from their shops.” An officer at the Provincial Consumer Protection Office, who asked not to be named, said on Tuesday, “About a week after we received the business owners’ first complaint, we invited the owner of the Paradise Complex to come and discuss the problem, and to present his building permit. “He arrived for the meeting, but said that he would show us the building permit later. We’re still waiting to see it.” He said that the office would look into the matter further, but added, “If the owner has the legal right to build on the land in question, then we will not take any action against him.” Patong Municipality’s Suwat said, “We asked the business owners to produce documents to prove that the Paradise Complex does not have the right to construct anything on that land. “The Paradise Complex has already submitted its design for approval, but we can’t approve it until the problem with the business owners has been sorted out. “According to the documents supplied by the Paradise Complex, there’s nothing wrong, but we have asked them to make some changes to the design, which they haven’t sent back to us yet. “If the design is corrected and if the business owners fail to prove that there is anything else wrong, then we may issue the permit – provided there are no other problems.”

Phuket News
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