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CHINA - ROOFTOP VILLA





Beijing rooftop villa faces destruction
A man who built a large villa on top of a Beijing apartment block has been given 15 days to dismantle his eye-catching residence or it will be destroyed, authorities said on Tuesday (August 13).

The villa and mountain of imitation rocks and plants taking shape in recent months led residents of the 26-story building to complain to the local government.

Chen Yu, a deputy team leader from the Haidian District City Administration and Law Enforcement Bureau, told reporters on Tuesday (August 13) that he had placed an announcement on the owner's door demanding the construction be removed by August 27.

"(We) have ordered that he must come under investigation within 15 days. If he doesn't show up within 15 days, and we cannot reach him, we will apply for relevant procedures from the legal affairs office of the district government in accordance with the relevant laws and regulations," Chen told journalists.

When asked whether the construction would be demolished if the owner did not comply, Chen said: "There would be a demolition. Yes."

The construction, which Chen estimated covers around 800 square meters, also features a pavilion and a surveillance camera.

According to the state-run Xinhua news agency, the construction has been built over a period of six years by a resident of flat 2605 named Zhang Biqing.

But on Tuesday, Zhang was nowhere to be seen. Nobody answered the door of Zhang's apartment when a Reuters reporter knocked twice and rang the doorbell.

Chen said his department had been trying to contact Zhang since the end of 2008, but Zhang never appeared to meet them.

"First of all, its impact is an issue of safety. If Beijing experiences bad or extreme weather, it could be blown down or hit by lightning. More importantly, it has infringed the rights of other residents who disliked having a building constructed on their rooftop. According to the laws and regulations, anything that has not received permission is illegal," Chen said.

Residents living in the block said they were worried about the extra weight accumulating above their heads.

"It could collapse. Perhaps originally it was designed to withstand a certain weight, but now he has added so many things, it's not a question of a blade of grass. I also heard that there are big rocks and a big house up there. If it collapses, nobody knows how many casualties it would cause. I hope the government solves this problem," said Wen Tingshu, who lives on the 22nd floor.

Others also lodged complaints about construction noise.

Media reports about the villa in recent days have attracted some local residents to come and have a look for themselves.

Sixty-seven-year-old Chen Zhumin said she found it aesthetically pleasing.

"I've no idea about how it was constructed or designed, but viewed from outside, I think it's beautification. When we travel abroad, there are green plants on the rooftops of houses. So it plays a role in beautifying the city," she said

Staff working for the management office of the property refused to speak to media about the case on Tuesday.

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