If not for the initiative taken by the Pepper Estates residents committtee, the unity of the residents themselves, and the assistance of the elected reps for the area, the residents might not have achieved a satisfactory deal.
The residents grouped together and formed an association and hired an excellent, hardworking and honest lawyer. By the residents staying together and insisting on adequate compensation, they achieved it. Some important lessons to be learned here in dealing with developers.
A Pepper Estate resident reports on the compensation agreement:
It is almost three years since Beverley Heights Properties Sdn Bhd (BHP) bought the land known as Pepper Estate (about 30 acres in Tanjung Tokong) in May 2012.
After an initial hard-nosed approach by BHP in mid 2013, they eventually came round to the idea that residents were not giving up their homes unless they were adequately compensated.
With support from Member of Parliament for Bukit Bendera Zairil Khir Johari and State Assembly member for Kebun Bungah Cheah Kah Peng, the Pepper Estate Residents’ Association (RA) and their lawyer Soo Keong Joo managed to get BHP to compensate the residents of Pepper Estate as follows:
- A 800 sq ft apartment (containing three bedrooms, two bathrooms) sited within the legal boundary of Pepper Estate
- Tiled hallway-kitchen-toilet areas and wall – tiles to 5 feet in the bathrooms
- one covered car park lot
- RM1000 moving cost contribution
- RM600 per month contribution towards rental plus a rental deposit subsidy of RM1200 (refundable to the BHP) for those households who have to vacate for the construction of the building
- Two months’ notice to be given to residents to vacate their homes when required
A majority of members of the RA appear happy with the compensation and the ex-gratia settlement agreement. It is expected that most members will sign by the end of the month.
BHP has yet to submit their site plans to the state government as their approval has been dependent on reaching an adequate settlement agreement with the residents.
BHP has verbally told the RA that the location of the residents’ high rise has yet to be determined and that around 50 houses may be required to move initially to allow for the building site and access. It is expected to take about three years to build.
What do you think of the compensation agreement? Whatever the case, it will be sad to see this lush valley of rustic working class homes separated by narrow lanes along gentle hill-slopes vanish from the face of Penang.