St. Andrews demolishes building that encroached on public land

Last month, workers removed a lawn that encroached on public land behind St. Andrews International School, and the same view from Wednesday after demolition of the building was completed. Photos: Nicky Tanskul
Last month, workers removed a lawn that encroached on public land behind St. Andrews International School, and the same view from Wednesday after demolition of the building was completed. Photos: Nicky Tanskul

An international school has demolished a structure the city said was built illegally but hasn’t committed to returning the land to the public.

After St. Andrews International School began work to satisfy a city order to return a strip of land to public use, workers this past week tore down a four-story building. That much the school pledged to do several months ago, saying it would restore the land, which had been a public right of way, to its original state.

In a March 16 letter to district officials seen by Coconuts, the school said it would restore the strip of land behind the campus. It did not say that it would restore public access to the land, an easement neighbors say once protected their properties from flooding. The school said the flood control waterway no longer existed when it built the campus and has relied on low-quality aerial photographs from 1967 to support its claim.

A resident who has taken on St. Andrews on behalf of its neighbors said the school hasn’t complied with what the city ordered late last year.

“I don’t know what to think,” said Mayta Lerttamrab, the 40-year-old resident who grew up in the Pridi Banomyong neighborhood. “I see them demolishing one building, but I haven’t seen any sign of them returning the waterway where it used to be.”

He said the school hasn’t touched a football pitch and utility pole constructed on the public land.

In November, the city ordered that St. Andrews must demolish the encroaching structures and return the strip of land to public use.

Watthana District Director Suchira Silanon could not be reached for comment as of publication time. 

Calls to a school representative went unanswered Wednesday and Thursday. Last month, the school rep, who has refused to give her name or title, told Coconuts that the school operated by UK firm Nord Anglia was complying the order – “No more, no less.” She also said that while “some part of the school is public land,” it was “under the school’s possession” and “not open for the public to use.” Asked to explain the legal reasoning for those assertions, she declined.

Mayta has campaigned since 2020 for the school to return the land to the public. He and his neighbors say it helped protect their homes as a flood channel and was used by residents to fish when water levels were high.

Additional writing by Todd Ruiz

Related
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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