Chow tosses out Penang island master plan

Chief minister instructs MBPP to start again after stakeholders complained about a litany of errors.

Predeep Nambiar – 04 Jul 2023, 9:59pm

Penang chief minister Chow Kon Yeow said he has instructed MBPP to rework the 2030 Penang island local plan because it contained many weaknesses and mistakes. (Facebook pic)

GEORGE TOWN: It is back to the drawing board for Penang island’s first-ever development master plan, which was found to be riddled with errors, according to chief minister Chow Kon Yeow.

Chow said he had ordered Penang Island City Council (MBPP) to rework the plan and expects it to be ready in the next “one to two years”.

“We have instructed MBPP to drop the plan that was shown last year, after it was found to have many weaknesses and mistakes,” he told reporters at a press conference with the United Hokkien Cemeteries management here.

“A new local plan is being developed and will take into account objections,” he said.

The plan, officially known as the 2030 Penang island local plan, determines the density of future developments and specifies the types of projects permitted in each area over the next decade.

Civil society groups, which have reviewed the plan, claim that it is plagued with errors and designates too many areas for commercial use. They were also concerned about the high-density allowances for certain areas which determine how many units should be built on a particular plot of land.

An activist also alleged that the draft, which was displayed to the public, did not get public participation earlier, contrary to federal town planning laws.

The activist added that the draft plan exhibited numerous inconsistencies, discrepancies and missing information. This included instances where maps depicted school buildings as being situated in the sea.

Groups further pointed out the lack of effort to have unobstructed skylines and mountain views by limiting development at certain areas. This was specifically true for the scenic vista of the Penang Hill range along the route from Jalan Dato Keramat to Air Itam.

The inventory of heritage buildings was also conspicuously absent from the plan, with almost half of the 3,977 structures in the George Town area missing.

Prominent landmarks, such as the Penang Free School, Rex Cinema, College-General Catholic Seminary, Masjid Maqbul and Wadda Gurdwara Sahib, were also omitted from the heritage list.

The plan also contained glaring errors, including the misnaming of the Queen Victoria Jubilee Clock Tower as “Menara Jam Queen Elizabeth” and the misspelling of Dewan Mahatma Gandhi as “Dewah Mahatma Ghani”.

The decision to rezone the Penang Turf Club for mixed development was also called into question, potentially leading to the construction of projects as large as seven Komtar buildings.

Previously, the turf club was a proposed site for the Penang Global City Centre project, which faced heavy opposition from the then-state opposition party, DAP, in 2007.

The project was scrapped after Pakatan Rakyat took over the state government the following year.

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