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Planned skyscraper at famous E China scenic spot rankles
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10:17, October 28, 2007

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Residents of Hangzhou, in east China's Zhejiang Province, rejoiced when a 72-meter-high skyscraper looming over West Lake, a world-renowned scenic spot, was demolished earlier this year.

But now they have learnt an even taller building will be erected in its place - an 85-meter tower that will include a hotel boasting views over the water.

The property developer Kerry Property, affiliated to the Hong Kong-based Kerry Group, purchased the land, after a building belonging to Zhejiang University was destroyed at the beginning of this year, for 2.46 billion yuan (around 328 million U.S. dollars).

It has now revealed its construction blueprint, a plan that has caused some consternation among local residents, particularly as they believed the previous demolition was carried out for the benefit of the lakeside environment.

"I don't like the plans for such a tall building, because it is so weird and incompatible with the surroundings," said Mr. Xu, who has lived in Hangzhou for more than 50 years.

"Compared with 50 years ago, the lake has lost some of its beauty because of the growing number of buildings around it," Xu said.

According to the land use rights contract signed between the local government and the developer, only a quarter of the building complex is allowed to surpass the height of 25 meters. This, however, does not rule out an 85-meter tower.

The architecture firm responsible for the building says it wants to make West Lake a place "where traditional beauty meets modernity".

"Since some citizens are praising and some are protesting, we will give the matter overall consideration," said Kerry Property's Liu Jingjing.

The Hangzhou municipal government issued height limits for building around the famous lake but these limits have been renewed time and again.

"The high building will be a disastrous beginning because its selling point is a view of the lake from such a height," said WangShu, head of the China Academy of Art.

"Other property developers will follow suit and the lake will soon be surrounded by high buildings, which will block the common people's access to the lake's natural beauty," he said.

Source: Xinhua

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