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Heritage developer Boustead relents

GEORGE TOWN: The last of the four developers who were asked to scale down their projects to meet Unesco requirements has agreed in principle to reduce the height of its proposed project.

Sources told The Edge Financial Daily that Boustead Holdings Bhd had agreed to comply with the 18m/5-storey height ruling for its Royale Bintang Hotel in the core heritage zone of Weld Quay.

The revised development plan would be submitted to the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP) for approval within the next few months, a source said.

The company's initial plan was for a RM100 million development of a four-star Boustead Hotel with 300 rooms. The developer had been given the nod to build up to 51 metres before George Town's listing as a Unesco World Heritage site in July 2008.

It is also learnt that the issue of compensation had been raised by the developer.

Asian Global Business Sdn Bhd (AGB), whose project is also in the core zone, has already announced commencement of work on its scaled-down Rice Miller Weld Quay Development.

The project, which arose from its earlier proposal of Pier Hub @ Weld Quay project, had a gross development value of RM250 million.

Rice Miller Weld Quay Development, which conforms to the 18m height limit set under heritage conservation regulations, would have 400,000 sq ft of floor space, half the size of Pier Hub's.

AGB's initial plans were for a 13-storey, 100-room hotel called the Rice Miller Hotel, a 100,000 sq ft commercial plaza, a 160,000 sq ft retail podium, 23 small office house office (Soho) townhouses and 105 condominium units. The company received planning permission for its revised project on Dec 1, 2009.

Meanwhile, E&O Bhd had lowered the height of the annexe building of the E&O Hotel in the buffer zone to 15 storeys from 28 storeys approved earlier and construction will be completed by 2012.

The RM150 million annexe project, which was initially scaled down to 17 storeys, would have 139 suites, bringing the total number of suites to 240. There would also be restaurants, retail outlets, podium, swimming pool and extensive meeting and banqueting facilities.

The other developer, Low Yat group, in the buffer zone along Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah, is also said to have relented and would revise its plans for a 23-storey hotel to adhere to the requirements set by Unesco.

All four projects were approved before Penang was declared a Unesco World Heritage site on July 7, 2008. The 18m/5-storey height restriction contained in the dossier submitted to Unesco was put in place once the listing was made official.

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