It looks as if the MPPP’s announcement of a freeze in applications for high-density development has caused a stir.
I suspect there must have been frantic behind-the-scenes lobbying by vested interests as soon as the MPPP’s earlier announcement was made public – for obvious reasons.
During a meeting with Penang Forum reps on 18 October, the MPPP had announced that new high density property applications would be held back pending a review of the high density 87 units/acre guideline. The review was to seek clarification on what constitutes a transit node and to allow streamlining with the Penang Transport Masterplan.
And now this…
This report from the Malay Mail:
State govt says no freeze on density guideline
Friday, October 26, 2012 – 12:26
by A. Sangeetha
THE state government has clarified that there is no freeze on the density guideline, contrary to what the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) said at the Penang Forum last week.
Local government and traffic management committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the council had no jurisdiction to withdraw or freeze the guideline of 87 units an acre because it was the responsibility of the State Planning Committee (SPC).
“When SPC approved the density guideline, it was circulated to the Real Estate and Housing Developers Association (Rehda), Pertubuhan Arkitek Malaysia (PAM) and others in 2010,” he said.
“Whichever parts that were not clear, MPPP has decided to finetune those parts. They have not been abandoned, only that MPPP is working on it and would return to SPC to adopt any amendments.”
Last week, MPPP president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail told the forum, made of various non-governmental organisations here, the guideline would be “kept in view”.
Penang residents welcomed the move to freeze the guideline as they claimed increased density would create a negative impact on the environment and worsen traffic on the island.
However, Chow said the guideline had not been frozen, “rather new conditions are being imposed to redefine it”.
“This caused confusion on the part of MPPP. They were probably not clear because of the finetuning,” he said.
“The new conditions for development applications include the submission of a traffic impact assessment (TIA) report, identifying the issue of setback between existing and new developments, and whether community amenities would be surrendered back to MPPP.”
The State Planning Committee has to clarify on what basis the maximum density was raised from 30 units/acre to 87 units/acre in the first place and if there was any public consultation before the increase in density. Has it explained to the public the rationale for the higher density and whether the existing infrastructure can support it?
The larger issue here is the lack of separation of powers between state governments and local councils to protect the public interest (rather than vested or developers’ interests). Another reason why we need an elected local council.