CAP baffled by demolition

Troubled lot: Heritage building at the Runnymede is facing uncertain times.

The Consumers’ Association of Penang is baffled by the demolition of ancillary buildings at the Runnymede property in Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah.

Its president S.M. Mohamed Idris said CAP was “confused” because information on the local council’s One-Stop Centre portal stated that the application for planning approval by a developer had been cancelled as of Nov 24, last year.

“We are unsure whether the developer had resubmitted the application which was later approved by the Penang Island City Council (MBPP) as there is no update on the website.

“Another matter to be considered is that the project application included construction of one 61-storey apartment block, a 31-storey hotel block, a 12-storey commercial and office block, and the Runnymede building conservation.

“Does this mean that the developer is now allowed to proceed with all these development?

“What has happened to the guidelines which restricts height of buildings in the heritage areas?

“What about the carrying capacity of the area, what is the justification for more commercial buildings and what about traffic management in an already congested area?” he asked in a statement yesterday.

He said the state and local authority should clarify the demolition and approval that was given.

“Besides conserving our physical heritage, the state government should ensure that Penang’s natural heritage is also protected,” Mohamed said.

Earlier, state Local Government, Traffic Management and Flood Mitigation Committee chairman Chow Kon Yeow said the planning permission had been given on Nov 10, 1999 to the developer by the then municipal council (MPPP) for a mixed development proposal.

Chow said the proposal comprised Block A for a 23-storey office, Block B for a 23-storey office tower (Tower B1) and 21-storey office towers (Towers B2 and B3), Block C for a 21-storey hotel and conservation of the former Runnymede Hotel.

“The permission to start work had been given on July 28, 2000 for the construction of one of the blocks, that is now known as the KWSP building, while the other development under the same planning permission has not been carried out.

“Since a part of the development under this planning permission has been carried out and complied with the provisions under Section 24(1) and (2) of the Town and Country Planning Act, therefore this planning permission is still valid.

“Through a letter dated Jan 13, this year, the council had taken note of the developer’s intention to demolish the ancillary buildings in line with the approved planning permission.

“Therefore, the developer has been asked to comply with the conditions of work implementation at site,” he told reporters yesterday.

Also present at the press conference were historian Marcus Langdon and George Town Heritage Action co-founders Mark Lay and Joann Khaw. - By The Star

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