St. Andrews ‘complying’ with order to vacate land: Watthana District

St. Andrews International School Bangkok. Photo: Nicky Tanskul / Coconuts
St. Andrews International School Bangkok. Photo: Nicky Tanskul / Coconuts

An international school is complying with instructions to demolish a corner of its campus encroaching on public land, a district official said this morning, though it remained unclear whether the land would be returned to public use.

A public works official at the Watthana District Office said St. Andrews International School acted in accordance with an order issued late last year by dispatching workers to demolish a building and remove a lawn that was built illegally.

“The school is currently in the process of demolishing its facilities, complying with the order that was asked,” said the official who only identified himself as Jirayut.

Asked if the school would return it to public use – neighbors say the land in question was once used as a path and seasonal fishing pond – Jirayut declined to answer, saying that it was an ongoing process, and that the school had not violated the terms of its agreement.

Both the district and school have refused to disclose the terms of that agreement, saying it is the responsibility of the other party. The district director and its newly elected representative have repeatedly refused to discuss the matter. A St. Andrews representative has said the school “possesses” the land and does not consider it open to public use.

The school began taking action in July, months after the district said in a letter earlier this year that it initiated legal action against the school for not complying with its original 2021 order to return the land to its natural state. 

In recent weeks, the school demolished a four-story building and lawn built atop what was once a seasonal flood catchment. That strip of land has been a point of contention with some of its neighbors on Soi Pridi Banomyong 20, who say the illegal development of the land caused their properties to flood and cut them off from a public right of way.

Mayta Lerttamrab, a longtime resident who has become an ardent – and strident – critic of the school, said he does not think the school has satisfied the order because other encroaching facilities remain intact and the land is not back to its original state.

He points to a former waterway that has not been restored and a football pitch he says was built entirely on the encroaching land.

The school has said it relied on old aerial photography that did not show the waterway to obtain permission to build. Watthana District Director Suchira Silanon told Thai-language media earlier this year that the school never obtained permission to develop the land.

In late June, Mayta and other neighbors petitioned Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt to intervene, but as of today, his office has yet to respond.

Classes resume Monday at the school.

St. Andrews demolishes building that encroached on public land
St. Andrews removes lawn from public land, yet to demolish buildings city says must go
St. Andrews says demo work starts ‘soon’ as neighbors ask Chadchart to intervene
St. Andrews must return public land, district official says
Out of bounds: City Hall says Bangkok int’l school squatting on public land

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