Amidst disquiet about the high property prices in the state, the Penang government has announced that eight projects, which will provide 19425 new homes in the state, are in the pipeline.
The projects are:
- Jalan S P Chelliah (1900 homes over 11 acres): This works out to 172 homes/acre, making it a high-density project. Tender awarded to construction firm Zubicon Sdn Bhd.
- Bandar Cassia, Batu Kawan (11800 homes): Earthworks started. Request for proposal called in April. These are supposed to be designed by Singapore’s HDB consultants.
- Teluk Kumbar (694 low-medium and medium-cost homes over 5.8 acres): Another high density project at 120 homes/acre, each home about 700-1000 square feet. Estimated cost RM100m. Tender closes on 16 October. Work to start in Dec 2013-Jan 2014. Completion by 2016.
Tenders to be called once land and urban settler issues are resolved:
- Jelutong (556 homes)
- Kampung Jawa, North Seberaneg Perai (707 homes),
- Ampang Jajar, North Seberang Perai (1200 homes),
- Bukit Mertajam (968 homes)
- Juru (1600 homes)
Total: 19425 homes
Source: Malay Mail
(Any latest news about Najib’s pre-election pledge that the federal government would build lots of affordable homes in Penang?)
While it is good that the state government is now focusing on building such homes, the prices have to be within reach of those who need them most. The prices are expected to range from RM72599 to RM400000. But flats priced at over RM300,000 cannot by any stretch of the imagination be deemed to be affordable to the lower-income group or even the lower-middle class.
The maintenance factor should also be considered, all the more crucial given such high densities; otherwise these apartment blocks could turn into vertical slums before long. Not only can we learn from Singapore about the design of these flats, we can also find out how they handle maintenance. From what I understand, the residents of HDB flats in Singapore pay affordable maintenance fees to the local council, which in turn responds to maintenance issues such as lift breakdowns and periodic repainting. And there should be sufficient well maintained open green spaces, as we see in Singapore.
Also, public transport must be integrated to these homes; otherwise people will be forced to acquire their own vehicles, further adding to the congestion. We don’t see a maze of motor vehicles parked outside HDB flats and nearby roads (turning two-way streets into one-lane roads), in Singapore, do we?