Wednesday July 22, 2009

Call for a halt on development projects



DEVELOPMENT projects in Petaling Jaya that have not been approved should be halted for the time being.

Bukit Gasing assemblyman Edward Lee said this would allow the authorities and stakeholders to study conditions in the city that residents were concerned about.

He said the current economic downturn was the right time to impose a moratorium on development of high-rise and high density buildings.

“Among the major grouses of people here are traffic congestion, poor infrastructure and security. A moratorium will allow an in-depth study on our town planning.

Rapid growth: The Lembah Subang area is saturated with high-rise residential buildings and mixed development projects.

“What better time to do this than in a downturn when there is an uncertainty in property prices and an excess of office spaces,” said Lee.

However, he stressed that this did not mean that everything must come to a standstill because the city needed upgrading in many aspects.

“What takes place then is a concerted effort by the local government, professionals and all stakeholders to come together to make their demands known. Also, the relevant authorities like the local council planning departments, Tenaga Nasional, Syabas and the Irrigation and Drainage Depart-ment (DID) can come together to look at the shortcomings of amenities in the city,” he said.

One of the main complaints is traffic congestion and the council can conduct a major traffic study.

“Integrated transport systems can then be improved and a detailed plan of action to help alleviate this problem can be implemented immediately.

“Likewise, there have been flash floods in many parts of PJ and so the authorities need to look into major drainage projects.” he said, adding that help in terms of finance from the state government will be required in view of the high cost involved.

Lee said the approval of new development projects would have to take into account the provision of infrastructure, which could only be properly addressed when a full- scale planning study was carried out.

The moratorium is targetted mainly at high-rise commercial buildings which bring in heavy traffic into the city.

He said the large number of vacant office space was also posing a financial risk to developers of these projects.

One of many projects: A file picture of a development project in Petaling Jaya and which is a common sight in the city, especially along the LDP, which has been targeted for commercial developments.

“A clear statement with statistics from the local council is required to advise the public and the developers if the city requires new office buildings,” he said.

Lee said public amenities like playgrounds, open spaces and carparks would be relooked at to see if these were sufficient and whether any unplanned new development would adversely affect such existing facilities.

“Security and safety is an issue now and innovative ways must be found to construct safety features.

“For a start, we should provide more fencing between the road and kerb in high-density pedestrian traffic areas in the form of either metal fencing or shrubs to provide security and at the same time beautify the place,” said Lee.

He said the Selangor government’s proposal to upgrade and improve the Klang River would provide many opportunities for jobs and investment.

“It is my hope that the government will allow the public to take part in mapping out a proper plan for such an action to take place before development plans are approved.

“We must remember that not all moratoriums are bad. Refurbishing, repair and reconstruction work can take place during that period and that provides ample jobs,” he said.

He added that another matter of concern which can be addressed during the intermission is to make sure that all existing properties and developments are in compliance and in conformity with overall structure plans such as the national physical plan, state structure plans and local plans.

“Non-compliance can result in infrastructure deficiencies which we can’t afford if we want to attract global investments,” said Lee.