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Illegal villa on apartment rooftop

2013-08-13 08:42 Global Times Web Editor: Gu Liping

A man was found to have illegally built a two-story villa with a garden and landscape features on the rooftop of a high-rise apartment building in Beijing, raising safety concerns in the area.

The 1,000-square-meter villa, which sits on top of a 26-story building of the Renji Shanzhuang, a residential compound in Beijing's Haidian district, is surrounded by artificial rocks, trees and other landscape features, reported the Beijing Morning Post.

The owner, Zhang Biqing, began construction after he purchased a relatively modest 100-square-meter penthouse on the building's rooftop in 2007, which he then tore apart and rebuilt into his sprawling mini-estate.

Over the past six years, neighbors have filed multiple complaints of water leaks and noise due to the construction project.

"We feel very unsafe living in this building. With all the illegal construction going on, what would happen to us if the rooftop can no longer hold all the weight?" the newspaper quoted an anonymous neighbor as saying.

Employees with the building's property management company said they tried to talk Zhang out of his construction project, but Zhang said he had "no fear of being sued."

The Xinhua News Agency reported that Zhang was a former member of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference Haidian District Committee. The Beijing News said Zhang runs a successful acupuncture business.

The Urban Administrative and Law Enforcement Bureau of Haidian District has finished their investigation into the villa and has taken pictures as evidence.

The People's Daily reported on Monday that the local authority has demanded Zhang either demolish the villa within 15 days or file an official explanation letter. Failing to obey the order could result in forceful demolition by the government.

Yang Shichun, a registered constructor, told the Beijing Morning Post that it is dangerous to arbitrarily change the design of a building without first gaining approval from the architect.

"Such unauthorized renovations can increase pressure on building beams and cause water or electricity leaks. When the lightning rod on top of a building is removed, residents will face a greater safety hazard in storms," said Yang.

The same situation previously happened in Hengyang, Hunan Province.

Twenty-five illegal villas were built on top of some four-floor buildings between 2003 and 2009. The reason for failing to take effective measures to demolish the illegal buildings, according to a statement from local government, was that the buildings belonged to an influential enterprise in the city.

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