Page last updated at 12:23 GMT, Friday, 12 December 2008

Chinese city downsizes for Unesco

Hangzhou is renowned for its beauty

The top floors of several high-rises in the Chinese city of Hangzhou are to be lopped off to help the city's bid for world heritage status, officials say.

Two exclusive hotels, a TV tower and a number of other buildings around the beautiful West Lake area will all be made shorter, the developer said.

The 40m yuan ($5.8m) project is to help the city become a Unesco World Heritage site, Chinese media reports.

But one of the hotels named said it was unaware of the plans.

"We haven't received any order or any notice about it. But we're also very concerned and will pay close attention to this," a spokeswoman from the Shangri-La hotel told the Associated Press news agency.

Prestigious title

Wang Shuifa, who is heading the project, earlier told a news conference that officials were wanting to lower the hotel's east wing.

The east wing currently has seven storeys, with a penthouse presidential suite offering lakeside views costing as much as 30,000 yuan ($4,300) per night.


"We have hired foreign firms to draft detailed plans of how to reduce the height of the Shangri-La, whose owners will be compensated," Mr Wang was quoted by the China Daily newspaper as saying.

He went on to say that the main tower of the Huabei hotel and a television tower were also among the buildings that needed to be made shorter.

Hangzhou was the capital of China in the 12th and 13th centuries and is considered to be one of the country's most beautiful cities. Its lakeside temples and historic buildings draw large numbers of tourists each year.

China applied in 1996 for the scenic area around the lake to be listed as a Unesco World Heritage site, a prestigious title aimed at preserving sites of cultural or natural importance.

The Hangzhou government warned in July that all buildings over 24m (79ft) high on the lake's east bank would have to be shortened to clear the skyline, the newspaper reports.

Xinhua news agency says the shortening project is expected to be completed by April.

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