The Appeals Board this morning decided in favour of the residents of Persiaran Kelicap and Solok Kelicap over a “special project” on hilly land near them.
According to a Sungai Ara resident and an activist who were present, the gist of the grounds of the decision is as follows:
A significant proportion of the site was higher than the threshold of 250 feet above sea level with slopes exceeding 25 degrees
There were flaws in the planning approval: The state planning committee cannot devolve the power for approving such sensitive hill land development to the MBPP, which has no authority to approve such projects. The approval is thus void.
The Penang Structure Plan, forbidding development above 250 feet, was gazetted in 2007. Planning approval for this site was granted in 2012. So that’s another issue.
The developer had use the the term projek istimewa when submitting the plan. The MBPP cannot approve just based on “special projects” without looking at the intention of the Penang Structure Plan, which is to protect hill land.
This project was for 14 blocks and 92 bungalows – a total of 600 homes. So it doesn’t really qualify as a “special project”. Special projects are for limited development above 250 feet, especially those that are in the public interest e.g. government need for security. (Even the 1996 masterplan, just a guideline that was not gazetted, allows only low-density housing for hill land that had been rezoned for housing.)
The residents are awaiting the full text of the long and complex judgment, which cited various laws and cases relating to special projects. It looks as if the state planning committee’s 2009 guidelines that apparently widened the definition of special projects has now been called into question.
The Appeals Board was chaired by Yeo Yang Poh.
Meanwhile, the developer has 60 days to file an appeal in court.
Not a single reporter was present; so this is unlikely to be widely reported in the media. Many of them were up on Botak Hill for a site visit, arranged by the MBPP, which was scheduled for the same time.
Penang Forum steering committe members, however, were present at both places.