Pattaya tourist spot in the soup over land grab
CHON BURI: Sukhawadee House, a luxury mansion and tourist attraction in Pattaya, was found Tuesday to be encroaching on public land.
An inspection of the beachfront tourist spot in tambon Na Klua of Bang Lamung district was carried out by officials from the Pattaya marine and provincial land offices and various agencies.
A probe was conducted after local authorities received a complaint from villagers, accusing Sukhawadee House's owner of illegally constructing structures on land reclaimed from the sea.
Residents also accused those in charge of the property of sealing off a public community road for private use and parking large tourist shuttle buses along a public beachfront pathway to the mansion, which had caused damage to state property.
Pattaya deputy mayor Wichian Pongpanit, who was among the inspection team, said the check by Bang Lamung land officials indicated that around 11 rai of coastal land reclaimed from the sea formed part of the estate which sits on about 80 rai.
Land reclaimed from the sea is considered a public area, he said.
Several buildings along with a garden area also sat on the 11 rai land plot which was encircled by a fence.
Land officials later confirmed the construction of these structures was illegal because Sukhawadee House's owner was earlier denied a title deed for the land.
In addition, the inspection team also found that a 150-metre long road linking the estate to Soi Bang Lamung, which was declared a public thoroughfare on July 27, 1987, was sealed off by a fence and several structures.
Authorities ordered Sukhawadee House's administrators to demolish the fence and the buildings.
The inspection team also confirmed the coastal pathway behind the house was being used as a road for tourist shuttle buses.
Mr Wichian admitted that Sukhawadee House had asked permission to use the path -- built using money from the Pattaya municipality to allow tourist access on foot -- to park large tourist shuttle buses.
He said the request was thrown out because a previous routine inspection found the pavement had been damaged by heavy vehicles.
To address the problem, Mr Wichian instructed the Pattaya Public Works to place a barrier to keep vehicles off the pathway.
Legal action would be taken against Sukhawadee House's owner and administrators under the Building Control Act.
He and various authorities would supervise the demolition of the illegally built buildings and assess the condition of the pathway next month as they decide on next steps, Mr Wichain said.
According to www.sukhawadee.com, the official website of Sukhawadee House, the mansion and surrounding estate is owned by Panya Chotitawan, owner of Saha Farms Co Ltd, one of the country's largest frozen poultry exporters.
Mr Panya could not be reached for comment on the developments.