Lost the plot: luxury villas built on rickety poles above Chinese factory to be torn down amid health and safety concerns

Prime real estate is worth its weight in gold these days so you can hardly blame one Hong Kong businessman for extending upwards...

Planning permission can be a real drag, can’t it?

All you want is a little extra space for the bespoke kitchen extension of your dreams (hmmm make that a small conservatory, too, while you’re at it) and then those pesky council people go and put a spanner in the works…

Sound familiar? Then spare a thought for one Hong Kong business tycoon whose extravagant ‘loft conversion‘ has been ordered to be torn down after it was discovered that it doesn’t quite match the blueprints he originally submitted.

To be fair to the authorities, it’s easy to see why the extension may be a cause for concern.

Built atop the owner’s three-storey factory in Dongguan, Guangdong Province in southern China, the two identical villas are precariously supported by little more than four rather flimsy-looking concrete stilts.

And at two-storeys high, the villas appear to be perilously unstable and practically dwarf the factory they are built on.

But although the authorities have now deemed the structures illegal, the businessman did originally win planning approval to build a more modest apartment above the factory.

In a statement, local planners said: ‘They were built without permission and they will be demolished before they can fall down.’

Such extensions are not uncommon in China where rapid industrial expansion continues to gather momentum.

These so-called ‘chateaus in the clouds’ are part of an ongoing problem with illegal, and often dangerous, DIY jobs and shoddy planning.

Earlier this year, we reported on how another man, Gui Lizhong, from China’s Chongqing district, was left devastated when he splashed out 190,000 Yuan (£20,000) on a swanky new decorating scheme for his new pad, only to discover he’d been working on the wrong flat.

The apartment Gui was sold was 4-2 in building D, but he mistakenly decorated 4-1. 

However, Gui says the mistake is not his because when he signed the sales contract the apartments had not yet been numbered.

And you thought your local council was bad…

For practical property tips and advice take a look at Phil Spencer’s guide to finding the best place to live in the UK.

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