The Met argues for fairness and against the EIA Approval of the 125 Sathorn Project

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The Met argues for fairness and against the EIA Approval of the 125 Sathorn Project

A real estate expert and academic suggests that The Met Condominium’s residents and neighbouring communities join hands to argue for fair treatment against the surprise EIA approval for 125 Sathorn Project. In order to challenge the transparency of the EIA process, the concerned parties should bring their case before the Central Administrative Court and the National Anti-Corruption Commission.

The Met argues for fairness and against the EIA Approval of the 125 Sathorn Project

Dr. Sopon Pornchokchai, President of the Thai Appraisal Foundation and the Agency for Real Estate Affairs (AREA, www.area.co.th), is of the opinion that The Met Condominium’s residents and surrounding community should request a review of the EIA approval for the 125 Sathorn Project for transparency, as the concerned community surrounding the proposed new high-rise construction project is suspicious as to why the project’s EIA report obtained relatively quick approval despite an extensive objection report filed with the Expert Committee of the Office of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy and Planning (ONEP). Dr. Sopon Pornchockchai suggests a lawsuit be filed with the Central Administrative Court against the agencies involved in the EIA process. Meanwhile, a complaint should be filed with the National Anti-Corruption Commission to request an examination of the transparency in the EIA process.

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“The Met is acting to seek justice for its residents. I agree that The Met’s residents should state their demands and seek a re-examination of 125 Sathorn’s EIA process before construction starts on this high-rise project on the land in front of The Met. The Met’s developer told people purchasing units in The Met that the building on the land in front of The Met was to be a low-rise project. In the end, The Met’s developer did not keep its promise. This is wrong and not fair to The Met,” said Dr. Pornchokchai.

The Met Condominium is home to 370 families who, along with many others in the Sathorn neighbourhood, are deeply concerned that PMT Property’s 125 Sathorn Project has obtained EIA approval. Questions arose because approval was granted even after a 260-page objection report was submitted in March 2021 by The Met to the Expert Committee of the ONEP, which is the responsible authority tasked with reviewing EIA submissions. The Met’s objection report was instrumental in 125 Sathorn’s EIA being rejected in April. The Met Condominium’s objection report included survey results from over 400 people in the neighbouring community who object to the 125 Sathorn Project, with over 60% of the survey respondents giving a negative opinion the 125 Sathorn Project. However, four months later, the project surprisingly obtained EIA approval without providing any significantly new responses to the several key concerns the Expert Committee initially gave as its reasons for the rejection.

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Given the surprisingly fast approval process, it seems like the Expert Committee did not further consider the objection report after its initial meeting and instead moved ahead with the EIA approval. This seems to be the case with many EIA approvals. Many EIAs are rejected at first submission, which provides hope to communities that their voices are being heard. However, ultimately, most EIAs that are rejected at first submission are approved when resubmitted, after slight adjustments to the content, making the developers the winners in the process that is supposed to protect existing communities.

The Met argues for fairness and against the EIA Approval of the 125 Sathorn Project

Background of The Met

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The Met Condominium is a 66-story luxury condominium project developed by Pebble Bay (Thailand) Ltd., a subsidiary of the Singaporean company, Hotel Properties Limited. In 2003, Pebble Bay bought 10 rai of land on South Sathorn from the US Information Service. On this land plot, the company planned to develop The Met as a high-rise condominium project on the larger part of the land, along with a low-rise hotel on the smaller plot of land in front of The Met. The overall 10-rai plot was divided in June 2004 into seven rai of land for The Met and 3 rai of land for the future low-rise hotel project.

The application for a building permit for The Met Condominium indicated both land plots as a land area to be used as a building location. The EIA for The Met was approved based on the understanding that a low-rise project would be developed on the land in front of The Met. The Met’s unique architectural design and its environmental components have won numerous international architectural awards. In 2016, Pebble Bay abandoned its planned hotel project and sold the 3 rai of land in front of The Met to PMT Property Co., Ltd. (an affiliate of Thoresen Thai Agencies) for THB 1.58 billion. Less than a year after selling 40% of PMT Property to the Japan-based Kanden Realty for THB 981 million, PMT Property announced its plans to develop a 143-meter condominium project that will house 756 units and 433 parking spaces on only 3 rai of land.

Lasting negative impact

The Met’s front façade and the 125 Sathorn Project’s back wall would be only 12–13 meters apart. Because the side of 125 Sathorn facing The Met would not be attractive to prospective buyers, PMT Property plans to place all of the project’s 800 air-conditioning CDUs on that side, which is the only side facing a residential building. The Met believes that 125 Sathorn will have a detrimental environmental impact on The Met’s residents during its construction and will affect the nearby community’s quality of life when the construction is completed.

The developer of The Met promised buyers that a low-rise project would be developed on the land in front of The Met. Instead, the 125 Sathorn high-rise project will have such a negative impact on The Met Condominium’s residents and the neighbouring community that it cannot be ignored. Following Dr. Sopon Pornchokchai’s opinion, questioning the transparency of the EIA approval now is one measure that may prevent any actual problems that will arise once the project’s construction is completed. Homeowners and residents in the existing community should be protected by the BMA from a project that will have long-term negative effects on their quality of life and quiet enjoyment of their homes.

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