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Casa Permai residents up in arms against high-rise development

GEORGE TOWN: A group of residents here are up in arms against the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) for approving a high-rise development on hilly land in front of their houses.

The residents of some 50 houses in Casa Permai, Persiaran Lembah Permai were upset, disappointed and afraid over the 260-unit development which could affect them as it is only 150ft away from their houses.

Lawyer Kanagavalli Nadarajan said they were upset that their houses would be affected by the rock blasting and piling works and they would lose the peaceful and green environment.

“We are also worried that the road in front of our houses would be turned into the main access road for the development.

“Why didn’t MPPP or the developer, Nilai Arif Sdn Bhd, consult us because we are bound to be affected?” she said.

Due to the uncertainties, the residents might file an injunction against Nilai Arif, MPPP and the state government, she added.

She said the residents had never received any notice from MPPP but did have a meeting with Hunza Properties (North) Sdn Bhd, which wholly owns Nilai Arif, on April 14 this year.

However, it was a brief meeting with scant details as there were no answers to residents’ questions regarding the project’s approval.

“We want to know how the project was approved when it is more than 250ft or 76.2 metres above sea level and there were houses near the granite rock hill. We believe there will be rock blasting in order to build it on the hill.

“If the project was approved according to the law, we urge the developer and local council to listen to our appeal, and not to turn the residential road in front of our house into the main access road,” Kanagavalli said.

The development featuring 33- and 34-storey condominiums was being built by Nilai Arif.

According to the information board erected at the site, MPPP’s one-stop centre approved the planning application on Sept 10 last year while the building plan was approved on Jan 28 this year.

Permission for earthworks to be conducted was received on Feb 11 this year.

A Hunza Properties project manager, who declined to be named, said the company planned to begin work in April and was “strictly adhering” to the 250ft limitation.

“We agree that some parts of the hill are more than 250ft [above sea level] but we will not build on those parts. There will also be rock blasting but it will be done within a controlled environment. We are strictly adhering to the law,” he said.

In Penang, the state’s planning policy such as the Penang Structure Plan 2005-2020 and 1996 MPPP’s Controlled Development and Planning Policy disallow the development of high-rise buildings on land 250ft above sea level.

However, the Safety Guideline for Hillside Development 2012 that provides strict regulations allows development on land with gradients between 25 and 35 degrees or technical land classes to take place.

Having lived in Casa Permai in Tanjung Bungah herself since 2006, Kanagavalli and her neighbours recalled their housing developer Boon Siew Properties allegedly promising them verbally that there would be no development near their houses.

“That was why we paid extra for the houses along Persiaran Lembah Permai compared with those who bought houses behind ours. Boon Siew Properties repeatedly told us there would be no development and we would be able to enjoy the scenery in front of our houses,” she said.

She added that a petition was sent to the state government on June 23 last year after they began to notice lorries going up the road. However, there was no response.

“We want the full geotechnical report of the project to be shown to us. There must be transparency,” she told reporters at the site.

She said they would be arranging for a meeting with state housing, town and country planning committee chairman Jagdeep Singh Deo to iron out the problem with the state government.


This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on May 6, 2014.

 

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