Public was not consulted, says Rehda

The state Real Estate and Housing Developers' Association (Rehda) has lambasted the state government decision to impose strict restrictions on development in the heritage and buffer zones.

Quoting a report in an English daily, that under a new regulation, new buildings in the core and buffer zones must not exceed five storeys, Rehda yesterday released a statement saying: "There are many other conditions which similarly affect the development potential and economic value of properties within these zones."

Rehda claimed the application for the listing as a Unesco World Heritage site was made without any public participation, and no public forum on the meaning and consequences of a successful listing was held.

Rehda said in the late 1990s it was part of a group, that included the Penang Island Municipal Council and the Penang Heritage Trust, to draft guidelines for the inner city.

Height controls were drafted, ranging from 18 to 40 metres, taking into consideration locations and plot sizes, and "those guidelines made provision for incentives for property owners, including the waiver of car parks and the transfer of development rights".

Rehda noted that whether the "new guidelines" which supersede the earlier, make such provision is not known as they were "introduced without any consultation, publicity, public hearing or any objections invited, as provided by law".

"There has been no transparency in the whole listing saga, and the effect of heritage status remains as opaque today as it was at the time of the application," it said.

Rehda added that the public need to know the contents of the dossier and the management plan submitted to Unesco.

"Their property rights are affected, and as long as there is no disclosure the public is left to grope in the dark."


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