Saturday, May 30, 2009

No more tall buildings in Penang’s heritage zone

There will not be any more new high rises in the heritage enclave.

The Penang Municipal Council (MPPP) officially endorsed the abolishment of exceptions to the council’s original 1996 policy of limiting the maximum height of buildings to 18m.

The proposal was endorsed during the full council meeting on Friday.

Previously, if the proposed highrise site had a minimum built up area of 50,000sq. ft. and the building was located next to existing structures that were higher than five storeys, the 18m restriction would not apply.

Council acting president Tan Cheng Chui said the exceptions would no longer be applicable.

Tan also warned that the council would not hesitate to act against premise owners who failed to obtain building plans and planning approvals before starting work.

He urged the public to make sure that proper procedures were followed when renovating or repairing their buildings.

“We will not hesitate to make sure that all repair and restoration works adhere to our guidelines, especially in the heritage zone,” he said.

The council had originally adopted the 18m maximum height policy in 1996 but the State Planning Committee amended the planning guidelines in early 2007 to facilitate the development and building of hotels.

Last November, controversy arose over four high-rise projects in George Town as they were found to exceed the maximum height of 18m allowed under Unesco guidelines for World Heritage Sites.

The four, are the Rice Miller, the Boustead Royale Bintang Hotel at Lebuh Downing, an E&O Hotel extension project and a 23-storey hotel project along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah by the Low Yat Group.

It is learnt that the council’s decision was made in response to the Unesco World Heritage Committee’s three-day visit to the state recently.

All four projects are currently on hold pending Unesco’s decision next month.




Source : STAR
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