Why is the Penang state government silent on the fate of the Penang Island Local Plan? This is a letter from activist Tan Seng Hai.
The draft Penang Local Plan was approved by the MPPP in 2008. The Local Plan was however held back by the Penang state government with the reason given that it has to wait for the Special Area Plan (SAP) for the Georgetown UNESCO Heritage Zone. This is despite the Town and Country Planning Act clearly stating that a Local Plan has a higher hierachy than a SAP and has to be gazetted first.
It has been nearly five years now and the Penang Local Plan is still on indefinite hold by the state authorities. Penangites and members of civil societies have been raising this issue and asking for the local plan in many public forums, dialogues and public consultation sessions. However, the state authorities continue to remain silent and non-commital on it. It seems that the Penang state government has no urgency to want to have a local plan.
In the meantime, in the absence of a Penang Local Plan, developers and builders are having a free-for-all building anything and anywhere they want on the island. There are no controls on density, height and land use.
MPPP continues to approve these development plans because “tiada rancangan tempatan”. We see 30 storey condominiums built right next to low rise established residential areas. We see established residential areas rezoned to commercial use. Mega commercial and residential projects are sprouting up all over the island with no planned transport and transit linkages.
This has caused traffic problems in these newly developed areas. Several experts and distinguished visiting professors have pointed out that Penang severely lacks any urban planning. Current development on the island is uncontrolled and unplanned and this has resulted in the traffic mess we see today.
So the question that begs to be answered by the Penang state authorities is “what happened to the Penang Local Plan since 2008?”
Tan Seng Hai