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Penang govt starts reviewing 2020 structure plan

October 29th, 2012 No comments

THE Penang government has started reviewing the Penang Structure Plan 2020 after it reached its five-year term since being gazetted on June 28, 2007.

State Town and Country Planning, Housing and Arts Committee chairman Wong Hon Wai said it was a statutory requirement under the Town and Country Planning Act for the state to re-examine the plan every five years.

“We have just recently started the review last month by having workshops for internal departments.

“Usually, it takes more than a year to complete the process; thus, we expect it to wrap up by end of next year,” he told a press conference before launching the ‘PIP Property and Home Showcase’ in Penang Times Square on Friday.

Wong said its department had been assigned to spearhead the review exercise that involved consultation with stakeholders, non-governmental organisations and public.

“Throughout the process, we will incorporate the various issues and proposals raised in the press which included hillslope development.

“Subsequently, we will have an exhibition to display the amended structure plan for public review and hearing,” he explained.

The structure plan is a policy framework and guidelines for spatial planning and physical development for the state.

Source: The Star

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Highrise high density guidelines being finalised

October 26th, 2012 25 comments

GEORGE TOWN: The state government has clarified an online posting by blogger Anil Netto that the Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) has frozen high-rise density development.

Instead, State Local Government and Traffic Management Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the guidelines for developers who want to build 87 units of houses per 0.4ha were still being fine-tuned, and not frozen as suggested by the blogger.

Chow stressed that applicants would find it more difficult after the fine-tuning is completed and enforced, as new conditions would be imposed on them.

“Applicants would be required to submit a Traffic Impact Assessment (TIA), and reveal whether the communal facilities would be surrendered to MPPP or not.

“They will have to submit a TIA report in their applications, to propose measures to be taken on alleviating traffic congestion when their projects are completed.

“Hopefully, they (the council) can complete the fine-tuning and sent it to the state planning committee to be adopted soon,” he said when met yesterday here.

He noted that several applications, which were also submitted before the fine-tuning, were still being considered.

He said that since the original guidelines were adopted by MPPP in 2010, only one project was approved under the category of 87 units per 0.4ha.

When contacted, Anil said his posting was based on the remarks by the MPPP president Datuk Patahiyah Ismail at a meeting with the representatives of the Penang Forum, which is a platform attended by non-governmental organisations here.

Anil said the forum participants had scheduled a meeting with Chow today.

Source: The Star

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City status is our right Miscommunication shouldn’t be an obstacle

October 26th, 2012 No comments

THE George Town city status is both the heritage and right of Penangites, according to Penang Heritage Trust (PHT) president Khoo Salma Nasution.

She said the city of George Town was a flourishing democracy in the 1960s and many citizens who had “tasted” that would like to see their “basic right” restored within their lifetime.

The city status, she added, should not be denied or forsaken due to administrative negligence or miscommunication.

Khoo was responding to reports that the Penang government was diligently pursuing the issue of George Town regaining its city status.

During the Malaysian Architects Association (PAM) ‘World Day of Architecture 2012’ celebration at a hotel recently, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said George Town was accorded the status by Queen Elizabeth II on Jan 1, 1957.

The theme for the celebration was ‘Architects are City Changers’.

According to earlier reports, the George Town City Council merged with the Penang Rural District Council to become the Penang Island Municipal Council in the 1970s.

This eventually led to the loss of the city status.

PAM president Saifuddin Ahmad said that this year marked the first time the association was organising the national celebration outside Kuala Lumpur.

He said although the Federal Government had redefined the parameters of what constituted a city, it did not take away the fact that George Town was the first urban area to be accorded the status.

“This was why we decided to hold the celebration here.

“For older and established cities like George Town that have been recognised as a Unesco World Heritage Site, the process of rehabilitation, regeneration and establishment of new developments need to be looked at,” he said.

He said since the Green Build-ing Index — a green rating tool jointly developed by PAM and the Association of Consulting Engineers Malaysia — was launched in 2009, Penang became the first state in the country to offer incentives for developers to obtain the certification.

In conjunction with the event, a one-day seminar featuring speakers like Khoo and Komtar architect Datuk Seri Lim Chong Keat was held.

Source: The Star

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UDA plans more talks with Govt on funding for build-and-sell

October 24th, 2012 No comments

UDA Holdings Bhd plans to further negotiate with the Government to provide funding for the build-and-sell housing initiative.

Chairman Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed argued that if the company was to develop property based on the build-and-sell concept without any aid from the Government, it would tremendously hurt its cashflow.

“Discussions are ongoing but we must find a middle ground where we will not be adversely impacted by our participation in this project.

“The issue here is risk and rewards. For many developers here, it is not a popular concept although it is a norm in countries like Australia and Canada,” he told reporters after a media briefing on UDA’s initiative in the commercial development of Seetee Aisah tanah wakaf (endowment land) – the first in the country.

UDA was among the four government-linked companies that had agreed to adopt the build-and-sell housing concept as part of efforts to counter the problem of abandoned housing projects.

On the update on the redevelopment of Pudu Jail, Nur Jazlan said UDA viewed that the Finance Ministry’s (MOF) plan was not attractive in terms of returns according to preliminary reports by its special committee.

“Our committee will finish the report on the redevelopment of the area in a few months’ time that would suggest a lower risk and better returns.

“We will present the report to our board for approval which then will be handed over to the MOF” he said.

Nur Jazlan said the redevelopment of the Pudu Jail seemed attractive a few years go but now with the Tun Razak Exchange project in the picture, it would pose stiff competition.

UDA is wholly-owned by the MOF.

Source: The Star

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Strata Bill needs work

October 23rd, 2012 1 comment

THERE is no doubt that the quality of life of Malaysians living in flats, apartments and condominiums can be improved. Part of the problem is poor management. As such, it is commendable of the Housing and Local Government Ministry to introduce a new law to improve management.

The Strata Management Bill 2012 was tabled in Parliament by Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung in September. When and if passed, the Strata Management Act will replace the Building and Common Property (Maintenance and Management) Act 2007 in regulating the management of strata-titled properties.

However, the proposed law has generated heated controversies. While the bill is supported by many valuers and the Board of Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents (BVAEA) Malaysia, it has attracted very strong objections from those managing strata-titled buildings, including the Building Management Association of Malaysia (BMAM).

According to S. Venkateswaran, the secretary-general of BMAM, the new law will increase the financial burden of the property owners because it requires companies that manage strata buildings to be owned by property valuers. In a letter to all members of Parliament, he wrote: “The bill, by restricting building management and maintenance to valuers, would create a monopoly, and be open to abuse and rent seeking.”

At present, the law does not require property valuers and it is fair to believe that most of the companies managing strata properties are not owned by them.
It is important to note that there are 749 property valuers in Malaysia, while it is estimated that there are about 3,600 strata-titled properties with more than two-thirds in the form of condominiums and apartments while the rest are low-cost and medium-cost flats. Gated communities are usually strata-titled properties. If the bill is passed without amendments, property valuers will be very well rewarded. The demand for valuers will be so great that those serving the government will be tempted to resign and set up their own companies. Existing managing companies not owned by property valuers will close shop or sub-contract from them.

The valuers have not been keeping quiet. For example, BVAEA has placed an advertisement to explain that the Valuers, Appraisers and Estate Agents Act 1981 (Act 242) does not prohibit Joint Management Bodies (JMBs), Management Corporations (MCs) and apartment owners from managing their own properties. It also states that it encourages owners of strata-titled buildings to manage their own properties.

While the board’s advertisement is correct, it is expecting too much to call on the JMBs and MCs to manage their own properties. Most members of these bodies have to take care of their day jobs. They need to engage private firms to manage their buildings and they should be given the freedom to choose any company they want, whether owned by property valuers or not.

There is no need to pass a law that provides for only property valuers to be involved in the management of buildings. Dr Ernest Y. Y. Cheong who writes a weekly column on property, also thinks so. In fact, he is against the bill. It is important to note that he is a property valuer who has experience in property management.
What is needed is a law to ensure that those who undertake the management of properties should be held accountable for their responsibilities.

While there is no doubt that those who manage strata-titled properties play an important role in the livability of the buildings, the bulk of the problems faced by the residents are caused by the building owners and occupiers. If the tenants believe that they can throw rubbish anywhere because they are paying property managers and the sweepers, then even the best and most qualified managers will not be able to keep the premises clean.

It is important to ensure that those who live in high-rise buildings and all strata-titled properties know their responsibilities besides paying their dues promptly. They should be duly punished if they flout the rules.

At a wider level, Malaysians must learn to behave properly when they are in public space. Unfortunately, there has been too much emphasis on rights and too little concern on responsibilities as citizens or dwellers of strata-titled buildings.

Source: The Sun Daily

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