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Regeneration of Sec 51, 52 is key to nation's future

PETALING JAYA: The regeneration and redevelopment of Sections 51 and 52 here is of national importance for the survival of the country and the economy, says an experienced town planner.

Committee member of the Malaysian Institute of Planners Ahmad Jefri Clyde said Section 52 was a natural choice for redevelopment as it had train lines and would be easy to execute.

Meanwhile, Section 51, presently an industrial area, could be turned into a hub for new economic activities such as education, creative industries and information technology (IT).

"Cyberjaya is also a new economy centre, but what makes PJ special is that it is an urban renewal project," he said, adding that PJ was also much smaller in size compared to Cyberjaya.

Ahmad Jefri, who is also director of AJC Planning Consultants Sdn Bhd and Garis Architects Sdn Bhd, said he was asked informally to be an advisor to the state on urban regeneration although nothing has been made formal yet.

"We need to create a symbolic centre of Petaling Jaya," he said during his speech 'Regeneration: The Potential in Petaling Jaya' at the International Conference on Urban Regeneration here today.

He added that the stumbling block to redevelopment was the shared ownership of the land involved, which belongs in part to the state government and federal government.

"It should not be a political issue," he said.

Sections 51 and 52 were among the areas identified by Selangor menteri besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in his speech yesterday as areas for redevelopment in the ageing suburb of Petaling Jaya at the same conference.

Khalid said a total of 2,735 hectares (ha) of land would be regenerated in the state over the next 20 years, including some 1,672 ha of land in Petaling Jaya. Other areas of focus are Sections 13, 51A and 52.

Ahmad Jefri said in his presentation that his proposals have been put forth to the state and is now awaiting a response.

While the redevelopment of Sections 51 and 52 were important, he added that attention had to be directed first at Sections 1, 2, 3 and 4 in Petaling Jaya where the land leases have expired, resulting in a community of urban squatters.

"We also need to address the issue of affordable housing by the state. I don't understand the land leasing in this case; even in Communist Vietnam, residential land is given in perpetuity while commercial land is the one that is leased," he said.

Ahmad Jefri also identified Sections 51A, 13, 19, 8 and the Sungei Way Free Trade Zone as being in need of redevelopment and revitalisation.

He said the redevelopment of these areas should be carried out in phases and be an on-going project over the next couple of decades.

He added that Petaling Jaya, which occupies a 97.2 sq km area, faced several challenges of regeneration, such as the ability to mobilise resources, a limited time frame for completion and a blurring distinction between the needs and wants of interested parties.

He added it was important for the projects to be integrated with its surrounding areas to function as a "stimulus" for Petaling Jaya as a whole.

"The redevelopment of PJ should be viewed in the long term. It is our goal to make it a world-renowned destination as a successful urban renewal model," he said.

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