Mario Balotelli once lifted his jersey on the football pitch to reveal the words “Why always me?” on his inner vest after a series of controversial incidents propelled him into unflattering public scrutiny. Residents of Chee Seng Garden may now be forgiven for wondering “Why always us?” after hearing talk of a 40-storey tower emerging in the midst of their housing area, which had been in the spotlight after earlier controversies over nearby hill-slope development.
Some fear that, in the absence of the Penang Island Local Plan and with the controversial rezoning of Tanjung Bungah as part of a (higher density) ‘primary corridor’, the entire area could gradually morph into a mini-Hong Kong.
A string of Chee Seng Garden residents have received MPPP notices asking them if they have any objections to the proposed demolition of a three-storey building at 115 Jalan Chan Siew Tong, once occupied by Hong Hong Printing Co Sdn Bhd (so it had to be industrial land?) and before that a school.
As usual, the residents have been given 21 days to submit objections. So far, 17 letters of protest from the Chee Seng neighbourhood have been sent to the MPPP (though only 11 of these households received the letters from the MPPP as those ‘directly affected’ by the demolition). Thus, not all residents of Chee Seng Gardens are aware of this planned demolition.
Even fewer are aware of what is in store after the demolition as the MPPP notices didn’t indicate what kind of development would take place after that. (Why not, in the interest of full transparency?)
Property websites talk of a RM700m HH Residence (HH = Hong Hong?) in Tanjung Bungah, a project to be launched by Aspen Group. But again, details are scarce even though an illustration shows a tower height of 40 storeys and the Aspen facebook indicates the project is open for ‘registration’.
When contacted, an Aspen office representative said it could not reveal the precise location of the project, only that it would be “opposite the Floating Mosque”. Details would be provided later to those who have registered their interest.
The project’s “expected debut” is by the end of 2014, according to the Aspen website.
At close to 40-storeys (if the illustration is accurate), the tower(s) would dwarf other high-rise condos nearby and stick out in the middle of the low-rise Chee Seng Garden neighbourhood.
The Aspen Group also entered into a partnership with Ikano Pte Ltd to bring in the first Ikea store in the northern region and to jointly develop a regional integrated shopping centre and mixed development. Aspen-Ikano bought 245 acres of land in Batu Kawan from the Penang Development Corporation for RM484m or RM45psf. The Penang state government regarda Ikea’s entry into the state as a feather to its cap.
But over at Chee Seng Garden, residents are worried that any high-density plan in their neighbourhood would add to congestion and create parking problems. As it is, residents face a long traffic light wait (three cycles) at the junction of Jalan Chan Siew Teong leading to the main road of Tanjung Bungah during peak hours, a result of high-rise hill development at the back of Chee Seng Gardens. They fear a 40-storey high-rise tower could set a precedent for other tower blocks to mushroom.
“We feel that we will have little compassion from this state government, as high-rise development seems to be on the rise everywhere around Penang and spells money for the state with each (such project),” said one concerned resident. “It is most disappointing for us residents in Tanjung Bungah.”