How were permissible building densities in Batu Ferringhi increased?


A document has been making the rounds among residents in Batu Ferrighi indicating that the permissible building density in Batu Ferringhi has been raised from 15 units per acre to 30 units per acre for the tourism and public housing zones. How did this happen?

higher density for Batu Ferringhi

The document, photographed at the MPPP by one of the residents, shows that the State Planning Committee apparently approved (subject to conditions) an increase in building densities in January 2014.

Similarly, the plot ratio (for commercial property) was increased from 1:1 to 3:1 for the tourism and educational zones.

This doubling and tripling of densities will effectively turn laid-back Batu Ferringhi, at one time famed for its lovely beaches and relaxed rustic setting, into a stress-inviting ‘primary development corridor’. (Tanjung Bungah is facing a similar fate.)

Batu Ferringhi Orientside project

The permissible densities are supposed to be clearly indicated in the gazetted Penang Structure Plan (2005-2015), gazetted in 2007. Now this new increases in densities raise the question as to whether the Penang Structure Plan has been amended.

The law allows for the Structure Plan to be reviewed five years later. So the review process began in 2012, five years after the Plan was gazetted, and the entire review process was expected to be completed by the end of 2013. Apparently, the review has apparently overshot the target for completion – perhaps bogged down by all sorts of requests for changes?

To amend a Structure Plan, the Town and Country Planning Act stipulates a certain statutory procedure:

  • the Town and Country Planning Dept must publish in three issues of at least two local newspapers, the place and time where copies of the proposed amendments are available for public inspection,
  • the public is given one month to object to the amendments (but that period may be extended once in favour of any particular objector) and the objections must be made in accordance with the rules of the Act,
  • the Department shall take steps to “secure that persons who may be expected to desire an opportunity of making representations to the State Director .… are made aware that they are entitled to and are given an opportunity of doing so”.
  • the State Planning Committee must appoint a sub-committee to hear every objection,
  • the State Planning Committee shall then submit the amendments to the State Authority for assent and publication in the State Gazette.

Presumably, there is a reason for this procedure: so that the local planning authority cannot arbitrarily change permissible densities at the whims and fancies of those with vested interests and cause infrastructural bottlenecks.

So now, several key questions arise:

  • has the review process of the Penang Structure Plan been completed?
  • if so, when was it completed?
  • was the review and any amendments/revision made in accordance with the statutory procedure?
  • was the public made aware of amendments to the Plan as required under the Act?
  • if the review process has not yet been completed and the original Structure Plan is still in force, how was any increase in density approved?

Clearly, the state government and the MPPP owe the public an explanation.

Meanwhile, the more detailed and specific Penang Island Local Plan, approved in 2008, continues to be Missing In Action (not yet displayed for public feedback and gazetted).

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ong eu soon

Excluding the hotel and the plaza, total proposed units is 1461. With 30 units per acres, you need a land size of minimum 48.7 acres. If the letter is related to the proposed projects, then the land size is too small to meet the requirements of 48.7 acres. This will be the justification for suing the state government even if you can’t reduce the development density to 15 units per acres. Someone purposely want to divert your attention by revealing that the development density will be 30 when actually it is more than 40 or about 44. If consider suing… Read more »


Congratulations to George Town for getting the City status, finally!


Thanks Peter for clarifying. The article is inaccurate and misleading.

John bfr

Low cost building free to BATU FERINGGHi resident but parking price is RM 38 000.00 only . Is that really parking price or that free house price. Because sure all have vehicle force to buy parking because if no parking park car near road side then mppp give saman. It’s a plan . Very bad why government approved this kind of plan . BATU FERINGGHi resident hate this kind of work .

peter p

Anil, you keep repeating “doubling or tripling” of densities. How can there be any doubling if the ‘maximum’ had already been stipulated from the outset? If the developer pays Development Charge [these days it’s RM15 psf, RM21 psf, for residential and commercial respectively] for that extra over what’s under ‘permissible’, he gets to build to the maximum. It is double what’s allowed under ‘permissible’. This is the only doubling. This mechanism had been built into plot ratio control from at least 1980. Not something that happened recently. My analogy about buying the car was only to try explain that it’s… Read more »

peter p
peter p

There is some misunderstanding here. “Permissible” density [for residential], fixed at 15 units per acre or plot ratio, [for commercial or institutional] at 1:1, may be raised to the “maximum” of 30 units or 3:1, with payment of Development Charge [Infrastructure]. There has been no surreptitious upping of the permitted parameters. These are standard planning terms in MPPP.

I’m merely pointing out the error in this reporting, not condoning the despoilation of Penang.

peter p

This matter regarding payment of Development Charge [Infrastructure] is built into density and plot ratio control. In effect, we should be talking about “maximum”, rather than “permissible”. In other words, the real cap is on the “maximum”, not “permissible”. Has been for decades. What I’m saying is, there has been no “increase”. It’s always been 15, up to a limit of 30 units per acre. It’s like when we buy a car. If we want an added feature, we have to pay more. The development charge is supposed, in theory, to be paying towards improving infrastructure, because the supposed “bonus”… Read more »

Dr Syam

While Batu Ferringhians are so concerned about the environment, the Malaysians at large are monitoring the backlash of 1MDB scandal on Najib right now. Najib is in Korea right now and the internet (Anil will surely pick up on this a matter of time) is abuzz with some UMNO leaders going to discredit Najib internally for the corridor of power in Bolehland ?


I hope this blog can feature more articles on the importance of moderation in the Malaysian society.


Khairuddin berikrar lawan 1MDB habis-habisan


Avoid overhypped Batu Feringghi now. Go for lower density Bagan Ajam just minutes away via future undersea tunnel. Furthermore, SP delicious food a draw as well.

Awang Selamat Ori

DAP…? Well, they are becoming more and more unreliable?

Power corrupts absolute power corrupts absolutely so they say? Disappointment after disappointments!

Always bikin tak serupa cakap!

gk ong

Interesting new development as the Penang’s Umno Batu Kawan division leader D
Khairuddin Abu Hassan lodged a police report against 1MDB over the alleged mismanagement of its finances. Perhaps he has read this blog and decided to do something?


This is just another sandiwara from Umno.


Awang, i will pick your comment and send to cm to tell him he can do better. Tq bro and best wishes always !


Small issues mah, can fore-play mah.
Like what happened to Madame Pykett, a dirty work of a KL developer.
When there is a will to circumvent established laws, these recalcitrants (developers & authorities sama-sama) will find a loop-hole.
Kee, is right in one sense – Penangites are STUPID.

Cosmopolitan Kapitan Penang – a dirty fore-playground of greedy developers & tak-pakai authorities.


Correction: tak boleh pakai authorities.


How did it happen. Its obvious that the DAP CAT govt have been doing thing behind our back. Just like a 72k LMC house sold for 240k and not allotted according to the state housing list.

gk ong

Land size is a constant (unless more reclamation) but population is rising, so density will increase accordingly regardless of which government.


Building more high-end properties (to meet ‘speculated’ population demand???) but which stay empty for months or years waiting for secondary buyers but nice for hungry ghosts is not the solution for genuine home buyers. Don’t tell us it’s free Laissez-faire market forces, even the evil forces can be overcome by timely divine intervention. Increase in population is only a lame excuse to build more anywhere, anyhow, anytime BUT without proper planning except to fulfil property gurus loud-speaker propagation in 8 star hotel ballroom. Frantic knee-jerk demand caused by surreal property price hikes caused by speculation, dizzy development, chaotic traffic &… Read more »