Alarm bells have started ringing over the premature talk of higher densities for property development on Penang Island.
Penang property developers must be grinning like Cheshire cats after reading a news report which said that the Penang Municipal Council has revised the plot ratio guidelines for high-rise properties in commercial and tourism areas on the island. This would allow the developers to build 122,000 sq ft per acre (i.e. up to 87 units) compared with 42,000 sq ft previously. See The Star report here. Notice also the low, low quota for medium-cost apartments. (How come no one talks about low-income housing?)
But hold your horses a sec.
Earlier this year, the state exco apparently agreed to the higher density which purportedly would make apartments more affordable for yuppies. But, from what I hear, this higher density was for transit-oriented development (TOD), which would be provided for in the draft local plan.
But for TOD to work, the proper supporting infrastructure must be in place; otherwise, the higher density will only add to the congestion along transit/transport arteries.
These TOD areas apparently can only be publicised with the release of the local plan. Presumably, applications for property projects will then have to conform with the local plan.
Another important point: it is only the full council of the MPPP that has the power to approve higher densities – not the state exco.
Now that the higher density issue has been reported in the press, the MPPP must clarify:
- whether such higher-density TOD areas have already been implemented
- and if so, who was responsibly for approving such TOD areas
- and where the supporting infrastructure is.