13% of Baan Sukhawadee ordered demolished for property encroachment

Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit leads a team of authorities to investigate property encroachment in and around Baan Sukhawadee.
Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit leads a team of authorities to investigate property encroachment in and around Baan Sukhawadee.

PATTAYA – More than 13 percent of Baan Sukhawadee, the ostentatious mansion and tourist attraction, was ordered demolished after Pattaya officials found that buildings, gardens and fences encroached on public land.

Deputy Mayor Vichien Pongpanit led officials from Banglamung District and the Chonburi Land Department to the ornate Sukhumvit Road estate Jan. 22 following renewed complaints from neighbors that owner Panya Chotitawan, head of giant poultry exporter Saha Farms Co., illegally built structures on land reclaimed from the sea.

Ocean-reclaimed landfill is considered public land in Thailand. Panya could not be reached for comment.

In all, 11 of Sukhawadee House’s 80 rai of land were deemed to be public land, although measurements are underway to determine the exact encroachment. The land includes gardens and salas and was encircled by a fence.

Management of the tourist attraction was also accused of sealing off a public road and running tourist shuttle buses on a waterfront pedestrian path, heavily damaging the public walkway.

Officials confirmed that a 150-meter-long road linking the estate to Soi Banglamung had been sealed off with a fence and several structures. The street was designated a public road in 1987.

Management was given one month to remove the fences and begin demolishing the encroaching structures. Vichien also ordered city workers to erect barriers to prevent vehicles from using the Kratinglai waterfront pedestrian path.

The deputy mayor said Baan Sukhawadee had applied earlier to use the waterfront access route to shuttle tourists, but the request was denied, as officials determined heavy vehicles would damage the pavement.

Management did it anyway and used the area for parking the large coaches. Sure enough, the concrete walkway was reduced to rubble in places.

The crackdown was seen as a major victory by Sukhawadee House’s neighbors who have battled against the rich and powerful Saha Farms owner for years. In 2016, the complex was found to be flushing untreated sewage across neighboring Kratinglai Park and into the ocean.

Pattaya’s then administrators inspected the property and ordered the pollution cleaned, but said nothing about the usurpation of all the coastal land.

The city’s new administrators, however, have paid no deference to powerful figures, going relentlessly after property encroachers big and small.

In the Saha Farms owner, Pattaya’s new administrators have picked their biggest fight yet in a tycoon with deep pockets to drag out demolition of his lucrative vanity project for years in the courts. Pattaya officials have vowed to prosecute the matter vociferously if challenged.