St. Andrews removes lawn from public land, yet to demolish buildings city says must go

Photo: Nicky Tanskul
Photo: Nicky Tanskul

An international school has begun demolishing a portion of developments city officials have said were built illegally on public land.

Eight months after local officials ordered St. Andrews International School to remove structures erected atop public land, workers today were seen uprooting a green lawn there, though there was no indication that work had begun to remove any of the encroaching campus buildings.

A neighbor who has campaigned for the school to return the public land said it didn’t look like the school was doing what it had been ordered.

“From what I see right now, the school is not doing enough,” Mayta Lerttamrab said. “The waterway [and] public space is much larger than what is being done. I don’t know what they are preparing to do for the buildings that remain undemolished, but I do know that the soccer field used to have a waterway that connected to the river.”

St. Andrews says demo work starts ‘soon’ as neighbors ask Chadchart to intervene

Mayta said the demolition work began Wednesday, a week after the school ended the term and went into recess for summer break. Last week, a school representative told Coconuts that demolition work would begin this week but declined to state what would be demolished.

Mayta and other residents in Soi Pridi Banomyong 20 have complained that building atop the public land, which once served as a seasonal flood catchment, has had negative impacts on their properties, causing at least one to flood.

Over the years, the school has expanded its campus onto the public land. The school has said it relied on old military maps that did not show the former waterway to obtain permission to build. In a recent interview with reporters, Watthana District Director Suchira Silanon said the school never obtained any permission to develop the land.

Coconuts has seen the referenced military map, which is not a map but rather a low-quality aerial photo from 1967 that lacks detail or any hydrological information. 

On Friday afternoon, a school representative who declined to give her name said the school was “complying with what the district office has ordered. No more, no less.” She declined to specify which facilities will be demolished as it was “an internal matter.”

The local district office said in February that it had filed a legal complaint against the school for not heeding a November 2021 order to demolish the encroaching structures and return the land to public use.

On Monday, the neighbors petitioned Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt to intervene. Mayta today said his office has yet to respond.

Additional writing by Todd Ruiz.

Related
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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