GEORGE TOWN, Jul 6 – George Town Special Area Plan (SAP) will be gazetted come Aug 1, according to Penang Housing, Town and Country Planning Committee chairman Jagdeep Singh. More than 5,000 buildings in the 259.42ha site, 2,569 buildings and the buffer zone comprising 2,444 buildings, will now be governed by stringent development rules under SAP.
There are 10 sub-zones denoting what is allowed to be built at the larger buffer and core zones. These will denote what businesses can operate, which areas have been given special exclusions and which are the “no-touch, no-development” areas. The city council will also be empowered to control work taking place at the site, imposing development charges, acquiring land and marking areas for development.
Also in the plan are improved pedestrian and transport accessibility, new recreational parks and restrictions placed on buildings and land use. The SAP has come a long way, with continuous talks held with stakeholders, including owners of shophouses and non-governmental organisations, since 2011.
Jagdeep said the SAP was to fulfill the monitoring criteria or “State of Conservation” by the Unesco World Heritage Committee (WHC) to ensure that the guidelines and recommendations under the Restoration Management Plan is implemented under Malaysian law.
The plan was commissioned by the state government and the state heritage agency, George Town World Heritage Inc, to comply with Unesco regulations on the heritage site. The plan was also seconded to Unesco for their approval. He said the SAP was completed at the end of May, replete with a translation in Bahasa Malaysia. He said the SAP received the nod from the state executive council on June 15 to be gazetted.
Jagdeep said the plans will ensure sustainable development in the Unesco World Heritage Site (WHS). He said the SAP also outlines short-term, medium-term and long-term implementation of measures to take care of the WHS. He also added that it is also lists measures to protect the intrinsic values at the site and understand the opportunities, threats and other restriction.