Central Village Vows to Open Despite Ongoing Dispute

Central Village on Aug. 28.
Central Village on Aug. 28.

SAMUT PRAKAN — A luxury outlet mall announced Wednesday that it will open this Saturday, despite an ongoing dispute with the operator of Suvarnabhumi Airport.

Central Pattana, the developer of Central Village, insists that the project is ready to open as scheduled despite claims by Suvarnabhumi Airport’s private operator, Airports of Thailand (AOT), that it involves aviation risks and land encroachment.

“The project has followed all the required protocols and procedures needed to be in compliance with relevant government agencies,” the CEO of Central Pattana, Preecha Ekkunagul, said. “We ask for fair competition, which will benefit the country’s economy and tourism.”

In a statement, Central Pattana said it had developed the project legally over the past five years on a plot of land adjacent to the southern road to the airport, rather than on land expropriated by the AOT as the airport operator has accused. The developer also said it obtained construction permits from both the national aviation authority and local administration.

Central Pattana said the height of the project’s buildings is lower than the standards set by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

“There was no need to talk with the AOT as the project is outside its jurisdiction. We have followed all the regulations and sought permission from the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand,” Preecha said.

The private operator of Suvarnabhumi Airport has accused the five billion baht project of encroaching onto government land and air navigation safety zones without a permit.

Under the air navigation act, any construction or planting of trees within defined areas surrounding an airport must be authorized by a competent official.

AOT took the bold step on Aug. 22 of blocking the entrance to the mall and erecting a sign to claim its land ownership rights. Central Pattana then retaliated by erecting its own sign and submitting a complaint to the Administrative Court to order the AOT to remove the barricades.

“We put the barricades up because we found a road linking the project with the main road that is trespassing on government land,” AOT president Nitinai Sirismatthakarn said. “That plot of land belongs to the Treasury Department, which has given management rights to the AOT.”

“We also asked the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand to inspect the buildings for possible risks to air navigation such as radio frequencies and laser beams,” Nitinai continued.

He denied accusations the AOT is conspiring with duty-free retailer King Power, which won a concession from the AOT in May, to eliminate competition.

“The media just links this and that by themselves,” Nitinai said. “The offender is in plain sight, encroaching onto waterways and government land. Are we supposed to let it go?”

The development of the 40,000 sqm mall began in 2015, but the dispute broke out just days before its opening date. Upon completion, the mall will feature 235 international brands such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Kenzo, and Vivienne Westwood at discounted prices. The project will also include restaurants and a hotel.

AOT's tent in front of Central Village on Aug. 29.
AOT’s tent in front of Central Village on Aug. 29.
"This land is the property of AOT. No trespassing or legal actions will be pursued," reads the sign erected by AOT in front of Central Village on Aug. 28.
“This land is the property of AOT. No trespassing or legal actions will be pursued,” reads the sign erected by AOT in front of Central Village on Aug. 28.

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