The high-density guideline of 87 units per acre, previously approved by the State Planning Committee without any precise reference to transit nodes, has now been put under ‘KIV’.
This was revealed by MPPP President Patahiyah Ismail during a meeting with representatives of Penang Forum on Thursday. The meeting was called by MPPP to discuss the Council’s response to the eight-point Plan of Action put forward at Penang Forum 5 recently.
Patahiyah said the ‘KIV’ is not putting a stop to the guideline but is pending fresh clarification on ‘transit nodes’ especially in the light of the Penang Transport Masterplan, which is still not yet ready. Meanwhile, all new and pending applications for 87 units per acre are being held back (though the status of the respective building plans has to be ascertained). A string of 87 units per acre applications had earlier been approved, sparking an outcry from neighbourhood residents associations and concerned members of the public.
The previous maximum density was 30 units per acre, and the earlier approval by the State Planning Committee was taken to mean that this would now be raised to 87 units per acre. As a result, developers were submitting plans for the maximum 87 units per acre and the MPPP felt it had little choice but to grant them approval. Now, with this latest decision, all applications that have not yet been approved will be held back.
The present high density development policy is being reviewed to streamline it with the Penang Transport Masterplan and the draft Local Plan, which covers medium-and long-term planning, said the MPPP. The draft Local Plan had been made available to the Transport Masterplan consultants. This draft Plan had allowed higher densities but only at transit nodes – but the problem is those transit nodes were based on the assumption of the controversial Penang Outer Ring Road and monorail projects, which thankfully never got off the ground.
The short-term planning will now look at how to coordinate development with the bus service as the main mode of public transport.
In the long-term, a rail system will replace the bus service as the main mode of public transport.
All high-density development planning proposals will then be examined by the MPPP, especially in the light of the Traffic Impact Assessments and the EIAs, and those that don’t comply with these conditions will be rejected.
It makes sense to ensure that high density development is allowed only in areas served by efficient public transport.
In another letter being circulated online, purportedly from the MPPP, it is stated that the development proposals/applications based on the guidelines of a maximum 87 units per acre density or a maximum plot ratio of 2.8 are being held back from consideration by the One Stop Centre Committee (MJOSC) until a final decision is made by the Council.